Prior to the game, Black Hills girls basketball coach Tanya Greenfield pulled Sarah McGee aside and told her if the Wolves were going to continue their season she needed to have a big game.
The senior post delivered.
McGee dominated inside, scoring 23 points and pulling down 19 rebounds, to power Black Hills to a 72-56 loser-out victory over River Ridge in the 2A District IV tournament Saturday at Capital High.
“I put a lot on her,” Greenfield said of McGee. “I told her she needed to put us on her back and carry us tonight. She did that. I’ve never had a player work as hard as she has.”
The Wolves, who split their two regular-season games with the Hawks, earn the district’s third and final seed to the regional tournament.
“This just feels amazing. We have lost to River Ridge so many times over the years,” McGee said. “It starts to become a mental thing, but tonight we played through it. It’s the best feeling.”
The Wolves needed a late buzzer-beater to put away River Ridge during the regular season. In the game Saturday, it never got that close after Black Hills opened up a double-digit early in the fourth quarter.
“Everyone was so poised tonight,” Greenfield said. “We had a lot of quick runs and they just added up for us.”
For River Ridge, the loss marks the earliest the Hawks have headed into the offseason in more than a decade.
Taylor Sauls scored 17 points, banking in a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to put the Wolves up 53-46.
Shayla Smothers added 10 points for Black Hills.
Sophomore Makenna Schultz scored 11 of her team-high 16 points in the second half for River Ridge, which also got 15 points from Jazzlynn Brewster, and 12 from Savannah McGill.
The Hawks shot just 28.8 percent from the field (17-for-59) and missed 12 of 14 shots in the fourth quarter as the deficit ballooned to double digits.
Things started out different for River Ridge as it hit five consecutive shots, including three from 3-point range, to double up the Wolves, 14-7, midway through the first quarter.
The Hawks shot just 24 percent from the field (6-for-25) the rest of the first half while watching their lead slip away.
McGee scored 11 points in the first quarter and finished the first half with 13 points and seven rebounds to help the Wolves to a 33-30 advantage at halftime.
Black Hills closed the first half on an 8-0 run and carried it over to the second half by scoring the first four points to post a 37-30 advantage.
River Ridge boys 74, Tumwater 62: Jason Kananin scored a game-high 23 points, Austin Parker added 13, and the Hawks parlayed a quick start to a convincing loser-out victory over the Thunderbirds to earn the District IV No. 3 seed to regionals.
“We got off to a slow start this season, but the team just kept improving,” River Ridge coach John Barbee said. “They have earned everything through hard work this year.”
LaBrandon Price and Israel Williams added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Hawks. Zach DeLucco paced Tumwater with 20 points.
The Hawks raced out to a quick advantage, opening the game on an 18-4 run, and never looked back.
A Parker dunk early in the second quarter pushed the River Ridge lead to 24-6.
Kananin scored scored 14 points in the first half, sinking a trio of 3s, to help the Hawks to a comfortable 38-20 cushion at halftime.
3A BOYS BASKETBALL
Foss 80, Timberline 74: In an all-3A Narrows League matchup in the West Central/SW bidistrict, the Falcons grabbed the third seed to regionals and the Blazers settled for fourth. It marks the second straight year Timberline heads to the 3A regionals. The Blazers find out their opponent and game site Sunday.