TUMWATER — In a game of survival, the remaining Sauls sister in the game was the last girl standing.
Senior Taylor Sauls banked in a straight-on 3-pointer at the buzzer — her second trey of the final 11 seconds — to give Black Hills High School a 62-61 home victory over River Ridge in 2A Evergreen Conference action Friday night.
Her sister, Sydney Sauls, scored on a runner in the lane with 35 seconds left to pull the Wolves to 58-56. Then, after Sydney Sauls fouled out and River Ridge rebuilt its lead to 61-56, Taylor Sauls laid on the drama.
“It feels great,” said Taylor, who finished with 17 points and was one of five seniors on the Black Hills roster who had never defeated River Ridge. “I’m really proud of my teammates.”
The Wolves improved to 8-1 overall and 3-0 in the EvCo.
“We’re just a team that never gives up,” Black Hills coach Tanya Greenfield said, noting her senior leaders. “I expect them to make big plays, to be gamers.”
River Ridge fell to 7-2 overall and 1-2 in the EvCo.
“Both teams competed well,” River Ridge coach Jackie Robinson said.
The teams competed fiercely, and neither shied from contact. Forty-seven fouls were called in the game, and three Black Hills players fouled out. River Ridge’s Jazzlynn Brewster (12 points) fouled out, and another potent Hawk, senior post Rebecca Stevenson, did not return after her fourth foul early in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore point guard Makenna Schultz held the Hawks together and kept on running even when she earned her fourth foul with 3:32 to play.
The 5-foot-3 Schultz scored 10 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter. She had a 3-pointer, a three-point play, and a steal and feed to Brewster during a 10-3 run that gave River Ridge a 58-53 lead with less than 2 minutes remaining.
“She’s ahead of her time,” Robinson said, “making heady decisions and playing within herself.”
Schultz scored the last four Hawk points as River Ridge took an 11-8 lead at the end of a ragged first quarter.
Both teams sharpened up offensively in the second quarter. A basket by junior wing Lexi Tarrow gave Black Hills its only lead of the first half, 14-13.
Stevenson then flashed her versatility, powering down low for two baskets and slipping outside for a 3-pointer as the Hawks took a 27-22 halftime lead.
Stevenson was called for her third foul with a minute left in the first half, and she didn’t return until the fourth quarter.
In the third quarter, both teams were fully engaged in the battle.
Nicole Nurmi, who had three fouls in the first quarter, returned for Black Hills and scored seven points before a Sydney Sauls’ 3-pointer pulled the Wolves into a 38-38 tie. Two free throws by Morgan Bernethy gave the Hawks a 40-38 lead entering the eventful fourth quarter.
Every Black Hills player scored, including 13 points from Nurmi and 11 from steady senior Sarah McGee.
River Ridge 61, at Black Hills 51: The Hawks held the Wolves to five points in the third quarter to build a 46-28 lead and put the 2A EvCo game out of reach.
Junior guard Jason Kananin scored 14 points to lead a balanced River Ridge attack.
Thayer Murphy scored 12 points, Israel Williams and LaBrandon Price had eight apiece, and Kobe Key added seven for the Hawks.
Freshman guard T.J. Mickelson had a game-high 22 points for Black Hills, which scored 23 points in the fourth quarter. Tre Hackney had 11 points for the Wolves.