An old basketball truism says it’s hard to beat a quality opponent three times in a season.
Not the way Tumwater High School’s defense played Tuesday night.
The Thunderbirds held Black Hills without a point for the first four and a half minutes and pulled away for a 47-27 victory in a 2A Southwest District boys basketball loser-out game at Centralia’s gym. Tumwater had beaten its rivals twice during the regular season.
The Thunderbirds (17-5) will meet Centralia on Thursday night at a site to be determined. The Tigers lost a winner’s bracket game to Mark Morris despite 42 points from Hodges Bailey.
The season ends for Black Hills (11-11).
“We know them, they know us,” T-Birds coach Thomas Rowswell said of Black Hills. “We didn’t score a lot of points either, but I was really proud of the way our guys played defense.”
Guard Brian Marty led the way with 16 points for the T-Birds, the only player on either team to reach double figures. C.J. Geathers added nine and Cade Otton scored eight for Tumwater, while Joe Crumley and Noah Brewer each had nine for the Wolves.
Rowswell said his team didn’t give much thought to the pair of Evergreen Conference victories over Black Hills, one by a single point, one by seven.
“We’re at our best when we don’t think about who we’re playing or what happens if we win or lose,” he said.
Otton and Marty sparked an early 12-0 run with two baskets apiece. An Ethan Loveless free throw broke the scoring drought for Black Hills, and the Wolves scored the next six points but they wouldn’t score more than seven in any quarter all night.
A three-pointer and a layup by Crumley cut Tumwater’s lead to 19-14 a minute before the half, but that was as close as Black Hills would get.
A 14-0 T-Bird outburst in the late third and early fourth quarter put them up, 44-21, prompting both coaches to empty their benches for the final two minutes.
Black Hills 7776-27
B – Loveless 1, Crumley 9, Kindell 0, Cunningham 0, Bauer 1, Glenn 2, King 3, Smith 0, Brewer 9, Walker 2, Carter 0, Olson 0, Wright 0.
T – Marty 16, May 2, Geathers 9, Otton 8, Brown 6, Wilmovsky 0, Slater 0, Koukal 2, Drayton 4, Kibler 0, Weller 0, Koelsch 0, Herigstad 0.