LONGVIEW - There was little doubt that Woodland, champion of the 2A Greater St. Helens League, would make a second-half comeback against Tumwater in the District IV winner-to-state, loser-out game Saturday, but the Thunderbirds made sure to put an end to it.
Just when Tumwater’s lead had dwindled to two points late in the third quarter, the T-Birds responded with a 20-9 run and didn’t let Woodland get any closer than nine the rest of the way in a 73-56 victory at Mark Morris High School.
The victory secured the district’s No. 4 seed for the Thunderbirds, and gave the Evergreen Conference a sweep of the district’s four state berths.
In fact, Tumwater celebrated twice on Saturday, as the boys clinched their second straight state berth after a 81-67 win over R.A. Long.
Tumwater girls coach Nick Greenwell knew he had to act fast when the Beavers climbed their way back after Kaitlyn Moses’ breakaway lay-in whittled the T-Birds’ lead to 37-35 with 2:37 to go in the third quarter.
He called time out.
Over the next four minutes, Tumwater outscored Woodland 20-9 and saw its lead balloon to 13. Katie Bergquist’s steal and lay-in pushed the Thunderbirds’ lead to 57-44 with 6:17 remaining in the fourth quarter. Woodland cut its deficit to nine three times in the fourth quarter.
Bergquist finished with 13 points – including three 3-pointers – and also did her part on the defensive side, forcing five turnovers.
“I know there’s lot of pressure from my teammates, too, so that helped me get the turnovers,” Bergquist said.
Tumwater forced 14 Woodland turnovers in the first half, which helped push the T-Birds to a 29-20 halftime advantage.
Double-teaming Woodland’s guards also paid off big dividends – Tumwater converted eight steals into points six times.
“We have six guards in there who can handle the ball and make good decisions,” Greenwell said. “When you have that many kids coming at you like that, it tends to get you down.”
Woodland’s Taylor McCullough did the majority of her damage after halftime, scoring 15 of her team-high 17 points. McCullough and Charity Arns combined for eight points in the 13-6 run that brought Woodland back in the third quarter.
Tayler Weiks led Tumwater with a team-high 15 points (12 in the second half). She did not start and was held to limited minutes off the bench because of a lower-back injury. Mackenzie Cooper and Abbey Bergquist also were in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Beavers played their third district game without their top guard, Kylie Moses, who suffered ligament damage in her knee in the team’s opening-round district loss to Black Hills.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473