The cliché would be to say Jackson Bauer walked “calmly” to the foul line and cashed in the do-or-die free throw that gave Black Hills High School its first win over crosstown rival Tumwater in six years.
“I was nervous walking into the building tonight,” Bauer said.
When Tumwater’s Jack Koelsch fouled him with the least amount of time possible to have left — one-tenth of a second — and the scored tied at 45-45, the pressure mounted for Bauer, who had never played in a varsity game against Tumwater before.
The foul occurred as the Wolves were trying to bring the ball up court for a buzzer-beater, and Bauer headed to the line for a one-and-one. No second chance if he missed the front end.
He made the first then, after a timeout called by the Wolves , attempted to miss the second back to himself but didn’t hit the rim, allowing the T-Birds a final attempt at a full court pass and tip-in — but it didn’t connect.
Tumwater (5-8, 2-2 2A Evergreen Conference) squandered a crowd-pleasing 25 points from senior guard CJ Geathers, who hit three 3-point baskets and a variety of clutch drives before sinking a pair of free throws that gave the T-Birds a 45-42 lead with 26 seconds remaining.
“It was an excellent feeling to contribute to our first win over Tumwater in six years,” Bauer said.
He wasn’t the Wolves’ only hero.
Senior forward Garrett Glenn scored a team-high 19 points, including some tough inside hoops when Black Hills (9-5, 2-2) was recovering from a poor shooting performance in the first quarter.
Between Geathers’ free throws and Bauer’s game-winner, sophomore Zach Crumley redefined “atonement” in the basketball sense.
After heaving up an off-balance jumper that came nowhere near the rim on his previous shot, Crumley hit a 3-pointer from the left corner that tied the game with 16 seconds to play.
“Garrett and the rest of our four seniors (Joe Crumley, Kaena Walker and Casey Olson) set the tone,” Black Hills coach Jeff Gallagher said. “We’re a young team, but they kept us steady. The rest of the team takes its cues from them.”
Black Hills took an early 4-2 lead, but Tumwater closed out the first period on 13-0 run paced by a pair of Geathers baskets and four points from Damon Gaither, who finished with 11.
“What had me worried was we hadn’t shot the ball well in our last few games,” Gallagher said. “I was afraid we might have another off night.”
Glenn sensed what the problem was.
“We had a lot of nerves coming into the game,” he said. “There was a very packed crowd and only me, Joe and Kae have ever experienced anything like this.
“I thought we might have a slow start, but I had faith in us, we’ve battled back in games earlier in the season.”
The Wolves did just that, scoring 11 points in a row during the second quarter to tie it. From there, the lead changed hands 11 times before Bauer put Black Hills in front at the buzzer. Gallagher felt a little karma at work.
“During our losing streak against them, they’ve beaten us with a few crazy finishes,” he said. “We told our guys at halftime they’d better be ready to win a close game.”
No. 8 Black Hills 54, Tumwater 34: For much of the first half it looked as though former Wolves’ coach Robin Johnson’s return to Black Hills’ gym would be a success.
With her T-Birds holding Black Hills to 6 of 34 shooting before intermission, Tumwater took as much as a six-point lead and stayed in front until 23 seconds were left in the second quarter, when Natania Serhan put the Wolves up 17-16 with a score from inside.
The momentum swung for good. Tumwater (3-10, 2-2) didn’t score for the first five minutes of the second half.
With Lauren Sayhod knocking down three 3-pointers and Lindsey Nurmi knocking down two, Black Hills (11-3, 3-1) pulled away.
Nurmi led the game with 17 points while Sayhod tallied 11. Sophia Koelsch paced Tumwater with 13, including eight in the fourth quarter, while Katie Cunningham had 10.