TUMWATER – River Ridge girls basketball coach Tom Kelly immediately cringed, then proceeded to shake his head in disapproval when asked about his team’s offense.
“We didn’t run it tonight,” Kelly said. “We run an attack-style offense, and we didn’t do that tonight. We need to do a better job with it, but we found other ways to win.”
At the top of that list was getting to the free throw line – something at which Jasmine McDonald excelled. The senior guard hit 13 of 15 free throws and scored a game-high 21 points to help the visiting Hawks knock Tumwater from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 60-51 victory in Evergreen Conference play on Tuesday.
“We got a big game from Jasmine,” Kelly said. “I was very pleased with how she played.”
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McDonald, who didn’t hit her first field goal until there was 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter, scored 16 of her points in the second half, helping River Ridge, the defending Class 2A state champion, pull away late against a persistent Tumwater squad, which dropped to 10-1 overall and 3-1 in the EvCo.
“I thought we played very well tonight. We just had too many fouls to overcome,” Tumwater coach Dave Littleton said. “You can’t give a team as good as River Ridge that many opportunities in a game and expect to win. But we can take a lot of positives from this game.”
Last season, the Hawks won all three meetings against the Thunderbirds by at least 20 points, including a 75-53 victory at the district tournament.
The gap appears to have significantly closed, because Tuesday’s contest featured seven lead changes and 11 ties – the last coming at 36-36 with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter before McDonald started a game-deciding 8-0 run with a lay-up off a steal
The River Ridge lead ballooned to double digits at 50-40 on a pretty driving lay-up through traffic by McDonald with 5 minutes remaining in the game.
Tumwater rallied, scoring seven quick points to cut the deficit to 52-49 on a Jordyn Richardson field goal with 2:22 left. McDonald answered with a 3-point play to push the River Ridge lead back to six, 55-49.
River Ridge (9-2, 4-0) hit just 15 field goals but made up for it by sinking 35 free throws.
Haley VandenHazel paced Tumwater with 16 points.
Kelsey Russell scored 13 points for the Hawks, and Necy Wade scored 11.
Tumwater 58, River Ridge 43: Josh Hanson scored 13 points, and Zach Boede added 12 to lift the T-Birds, who have won four straight and eight of their past nine.
Tumwater (8-4, 4-1 EvCo) used a 20-11 second quarter to grab a 26-17 halftime lead.
River Ridge (8-5, 4-1) was able to cut the deficit to 33-26 late in the third quarter but never got any closer. The Hawks shot a chilly 12-for-61 (19.7 percent) from the field for the game.
Nile Norwood scored 13 points to lead River Ridge.