LACEY – When facing the River Ridge girls, there are many elements to the Hawks’ game that leave opposing teams’ hands full.
The Hawks’ speed, full-court press, ability to force turnovers and sharp shooters are just a few of them.
With about four minutes left in the third quarter of second-ranked River Ridge’s 82-46 2A Evergreen Conference victory over Tumwater on Tuesday, those strengths came together flawlessly.
With a 37-31 lead and 3:52 remaining in the quarter, Hawks coach Tom Kelly had his team switch to a 1-3-1 full-court trap, and the Hawks turned up their defense a notch. A 27-6 run in a span of 5:12 broke the game wide open and gave River Ridge a 27-point lead, 64-37.
The Hawks finished the game on a 45-15 run.
Kelsey Russell led all scorers with a season-high 28 points, including five 3-pointers. As a team, the Hawks hit 12 3-pointers compared to Tumwater’s five.
Russell was joined in double figures by three teammates – Jasmine McDonald had 15 points, Rebecca Stevenson added 12, and Necy Wade scored 11.
The Hawks shot 44.6 percent (29 of 65) overall, including 47 percent from 3-point range (11 of 23), and they out-rebounded Tumwater, 43-27. Senior Jennifer Cole had 13 rebounds to go with her seven points.
“That was as good as I’ve seen them,” Kelly said of his team’s shooting. “ The energy kicks in, and they want to start running.”
Tuesday’s game marked the second time River Ridge has beaten Tumwater. The Hawks won, 60-51, last month in the first meeting.
River Ridge (10-0 EvCo) can clinch its second straight EvCo title Friday night when it plays host to North Thurston. The Hawks are two wins away from completing conference play unbeaten.
After that 1-3-1 was implemented, the Hawks went on scoring runs of 13-0, 15-4 and 10-2 while Tumwater struggled to score.
Tayler Weiks’ 3-pointer for the Thunderbirds (7-3) with 6:07 left stopped a 13-0 River Ridge run.
Mackenzie Cooper had 16 points to lead Tumwater, and Jordyn Richardson chipped in with 15 points, including four 3-pointers.
River Ridge led 30-20 at halftime after holding Tumwater to one second-quarter field goal.
Tumwater remains in third place with two games remaining, against Black Hills (Friday) and Chehalis (Monday).
Chehalis beat Tumwater, 43-39, in the teams’ first matchup on Jan. 15.
The top five teams in the EvCo advance to the district tournament, which starts Feb. 11. Aberdeen, Centralia, North Thurston and Black Hills are still alive for the final two spots.
River Ridge 58, Tumwater 48: The Hawks increased their EvCo lead over Tumwater to two games with two games remaining.
River Ridge (9-1 EvCo) held the T-Birds (7-3) to one field goal in the fourth quarter – a jumper by Zach Boede.
With the score tied at 42 going into the fourth quarter, River Ridge scored six quick points, including two 3-pointers by Nile Norwood to take a 47-42 lead with 5:51 remaining. Tumwater was in the double bonus after the 4:02 mark but could never get closer than two, at 49-47, after Boede’s free throws with 3:50 left.
Kyle Warner led Tumwater with 12 points, and Daniel Hinkle scored 11.
Tumwater remains in second place, two games ahead of Chehalis, which defeated Aberdeen, 73-40.