TUMWATER — The first half of the 2A Evergreen Conference schedule for the Tumwater boys basketball team has been similar to a roller-coaster ride, featuring some ups and downs.
But the Thunderbirds’ 72-59 win over crosstown rival Black Hills might have been the start of an upswing, as the back half of the league schedule begins Tuesday against Capital, and the T-Birds feeling a momentum shift that can hopefully carry them forward.
“I think we’re about to go all the way up,” said senior forward Spencer LaFrance.
Indeed, it was a much-needed win to get Tumwater in a positive direction after a mini two-game losing skid that sunk them into fourth place in the 2A EvCo standings.
Playing to their strengths against a much smaller Wolves team, the T-Birds (6-8, 3-3 2A EvCo) did a lot of damage inside with Zach Delucco (19 points, seven rebounds) and LaFrance (14 points, six rebounds). Wing David Cooper had 12 of his 14 points after halftime, as Tumwater built a 37-30 halftime lead after outscoring Black Hills 26-11 at
one point in the second quarter. The T-Birds finished with five 3-pointers, including two from Cole Hastie, who was the team’s fourth player in double figures with 10 points.
“Once we got going inside,” LaFrance said, “everyone else (went) off. It really gave us a boost.”
That momentum continued in the second half as Tumwater built its largest lead – 59-40 – on LaFrance’s putback just before the start of the fourth quarter.
On the flip side, Black Hills’ hot first-quarter shooting — which led to a seven-point Wolves lead early in the second quarter before Tumwater’s big run — cooled off in the third quarter as the Wolves converted just three field goals.
“Even through a tough start, we’re able to stick with the game plan and get back to the game plan,” T-Birds coach Thomas Rowswell said. “The post was our strength tonight. We settled for a lot of jumpers in the first quarter and (Black Hills) made us pay. Once we got going low, we were able to set our (defense) and get going.”
Behind Tremarcus Hackney, who had a team-high 19 points for Black Hills, the Wolves cut their deficit to 70-58 but got no closer. TJ Mickelson, the Wolves’ freshman point guard, had three points in the second half to finish with 13.
Black Hills (4-10, 1-5), looking for its first win in a month, hosts Aberdeen on Tuesday.
Black Hills 52, at Tumwater 39: The seventh-ranked Wolves (12-2, 5-1 2A EvCo) remain second in the standings after holding the T-Birds to three second-half field goals.
Senior Sarah McGee led all scorers with 18 points, including 10 in the second half. Shayla Smothers had nine points, and Nichole Nurmi chipped in with 10 for Black Hills. Ashley Christoffer led Tumwater with 14 points.
The Wolves outscored the T-Birds 12-2 in the second quarter to push their lead to 38-24 after three quarters.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/south-sound-sports-blog @megwochnick