YAKIMA - Tumwater's seniors waited three years for this chance, and when it finally came Saturday, they savored the moment with cheers, hugs and tears of joy.
The seven seniors had experienced heartbreak in two previous times at the Class 2A girls basketball state tournament and had gone home without a trophy.
But the Thunderbirds exited the court as winners in their final game Saturday, claiming the fourth-place trophy after a 57-45 victory over Lynden.
It’s the team’s first state trophy since finishing second in 2007.
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“We’re a big family,” senior Mackenzie Cooper said. “We knew this was our time.”
The T-Birds (22-5) grasped the refuse-to-lose mentality following their quarterfinal loss Thursday to River Ridge. They didn’t want to go home again without a trophy.
Tumwater coach Dave Littleton described his team’s season-ending win as “like a fairy tale.”
“You hope to get to be that,” he said.
After their 46-35 consolation win over East Valley of Yakima on Friday, the Thunderbirds played with increased intensity against Lynden on Saturday.
They held the Lions to nine field goals for 31/2 quarters and 32 percent shooting overall (14-for-44).
Lynden’s leading scorer, Central Washington-bound Hannah Shine, was the focal point of Tumwater’s defense. The T-Birds held her to 16 points on 4-for-13 shooting, and no other Lynden player scored in double figures.
Tumwater’s Tayler Weiks, who has signed with Idaho, had her best game of the tournament in her final contest as a T-Bird, scoring 22 points and pulling down seven rebounds.
Weiks’ first basket of the fourth quarter gave Tumwater its largest lead, 54-36, with a little more than six minutes remaining.
“I put my heart into this game and wanted to go out with a pretty big bang,” Weiks said. “It feels great to come back with a trophy for the community.”
Tumwater built a 34-24 halftime lead, then held Lynden to without a field goal the first four-plus minutes of the third quarter.
T-Birds senior Lakeisha Anger was a big boost off the bench, scoring all seven of her points in the first half. Cooper and senior Jordyn Richardson also scored seven points apiece for Tumwater.
The fourth-place finish is the program’s fourth time placing in the state tournament.
Tumwater took fifth in the 1997 Class 4A tournament, eighth in the 2005 Class 3A tournament and second in the 2007 Class 2A tournament.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/prepsportsblog