LACEY - What a difference a few games make for the Tumwater boys basketball team.
An 0-3 start – as the Thunderbirds waited for many players to finish their football season – is all but a distant memory as Tumwater has been on a roll since.
After a dominating 67-37 victory over Class 3A Timberline at the North Thurston Holiday Tournament on Thursday, Tumwater is a winner of five straight games. Nine of the 13 varsity players were part of the T-Birds’ 2A state championship football team and weren’t eligible until the team’s Dec. 10 game against Prairie.
However, Tumwater coach Curtis Medved noted getting team chemistry in a hurry wasn’t an issue because of the great work ethic during the summer.
“I knew that alone could take us further than it has in the past,” Medved said of the offseason work. “It’s sure is nice to start to realize it.”
In the Thursday’s nightcap, North Thurston hung on to defeat Yelm, 60-57, after leading by as many as 19 points in the second half.
For the second time in three games, Tumwater (5-3) held its opponent to 40 points or fewer. On Monday, Tumwater surrendered 32 points in a win over Steilacoom.
“Defensively, that’s our foundation,” Medved said. “When we’re clicking on offense, it’s a bonus.”
Kyle Warner led Tumwater with a game-high 17 points and 10 rebounds, but the offense was spread around to multiple players. Six-foot-7 post Josh Hanson had 14 points – all inside the paint – Daniel Hinkle added nine, Demetrius Jones eight and Jace Feldmeier seven.
The Thunderbirds held Timberline 21 percent shooting – 11-for-51 – including limiting the Blazers to three first-half field goals as they built a 26-13 halftime lead. The Blazers were held without a field goal during the second quarter, getting all six of their points at the free-throw line. They didn’t make their first field goal of the second half until Junior Chaney’s 3-pointer with 4:12 left in the third quarter. Chaney led the Blazers with 13 points.
North Thurston 60, Yelm 57: No matter how much closer Yelm got in the fourth quarter, North Thurston came back with an answer. The Rams (9-1) had their largest lead at 40-21 minutes into the third quarter on Eric Wilson’s jumper, but back came the Tornados. Yelm went on a 10-2 in a span of three minutes to cut the North Thurston lead to eight at 46-38 going into the fourth quarter.
Yelm got clutch scoring from Keith Anderson and Jonas Chambers to pull within three on three separate occasions in the fourth quarter.
North Thurston guard Matt Reid sank five free throws in the final 1:19 to seal the Rams’ victory.