Brian Marty’s contested layup between two defenders wasn’t a buzzer-beating shot this time.
But it may as well have been. That shot, with five minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, gave Tumwater High School its first lead in more than 20 minutes.
“That’s a lot of adversity against a good team, against a good environment,” Marty said. “That’s going to teach us so much moving on.”
The eighth-ranked T-Birds never trailed from that point, and escaped their crosstown rival Black Hills with a 61-54 win on Friday, locking up their third consecutive Class 2A Evergreen Conference title.
“Back-to-back-to-back,” Marty said. “That was our goal, we defended it. I’m so happy right now. It’s such a special moment.”
“Tumwater is a special place with a lot of great athletes,” Tumwater coach Thomas Rowswell said. “I’m just reaping the benefits of everyone who has come before me and the football program.
“We’ve been blessed to have a little continuity, and blessed to have kids who work really hard.”
Marty scored 13 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, and ignited the late rally when he completed a three-point play on the opening possession.
The T-Birds quickly cut down Black Hills’ five-point lead before Marty’s layup made it 45-44.
Jack Koelsch followed that on Tumwater’s next possession, sinking a long 3-pointer.
Noah Brewer — who led Black Hills with 19 points — scored back-to-back baskets to tie the score again at 48-48 with 4:10 to play.
But, Koelsch hit the opening end of two free throws on the next trip up the floor to give Tumwater the lead for good.
Marty scored six more points in the final 1:06 to seal the game, while the T-Birds forced misses at the other end.
All of this after Marty spent a good chunk of the game on the bench after picking up three fouls early.
“I think any time one of your top guys gets in foul trouble, it just messes with the rotation, and you could see in the first half we were just out of rhythm,” Rowswell said.
Black Hills led by as many as 14 points in the first half, when Nate Kindall drilled a 3-pointer to make it 30-16 with 2:36 remaining in the second.
That was part of a 16-4 run by the Wolves, who took a 30-21 lead into the break.
Rowswell told his team to squash the first half.
“I just told them to grind it (out),” he said. “We’re not a team that goes and presses and all that stuff, so we’ve got to do it possession by possession. … The guys did a good job of being patient, moving the ball and made plays at the end.”
Tumwater forward Thomas Drayton, a sophomore, had nine points and 15 rebounds, while Koelsch had nine points.
Garrett Glenn had 12 points for Black Hills and Joe Crumley added 10.
Tumwater (15-4, 9-0 2A EvCo) can complete its third consecutive undefeated title run with a win at Aberdeen on Monday.
The T-Birds were seventh in the WIAA’s RPI rankings entering Friday. The top eight seeds cannot be knocked out of the regional round of the state tournament after qualifying through districts.
“We just take it game by game,” Rowswell said. “We’re just trying to find a rhythm. We are in good position, but I still want to play well.”
Black Hills (11-8, 6-3) is tied for second place in the 2A EvCo with Centralia with one game to play.
No. 1 Black Hills 65, Tumwater 49: The top-ranked Wolves (17-1, 9-0) couldn’t shake the T-Birds until the final minutes.
“We never expect anything less from Tumwater,” Black Hills forward Maisy Williams said. “They’re a great team, and it’s always such a good game.”
It wasn’t until midway through the fourth quarter, that the Wolves — led by Emma Duff’s 23 points — pulled away.
Several Tumwater turnovers, forced by Black Hills’ press, turned into points at the other end as the Wolves put together a 23-point quarter.
“At first, nothing was really clicking, but as we stepped up the intensity things started to fall a little more,” Williams said.
Williams added 20 points for Black Hills, while Lindsey Nurmi had 12.
Sierra Snyder led Tumwater (10-8, 4-5) with 20 points and Brooke Hare added 14.
Snyder, the area’s second-leading scorer, reached 1,000 career points Tuesday against W.F. West.
Black Hills likely will remain at the top of the WIAA’s RPI rankings with one regular season game to play.
The Wolves travel to fourth-ranked W.F. West on Tuesday, and can clinch the 2A EvCo title outright with a win.
“It’s hard to ignore it. We definitely don’t live by that, though,” said Williams of Black Hills’ top ranking.
“Every day, every game, every minute, every second, we have to play like we’re No. 1. … We pay attention, but there’s more to us than being No. 1.”
Tumwater 11 18 8 12_49
No. 1 Black Hills 12 19 11 23_65
T – Jelcick 1, Fields 7, Smith 4, Koelsch 1, Hare 14, Snyder 20, Cunningham 2
BH – Williams 20, Patti 4, Duff 23, Reichert 2, Nurmi 12, Moloney 4
No. 8 Tumwater 12 9 15 25_61
Black Hills 14 16 11 13_54
T – Marty 19, Geathers 7, Otton 4, Koukal 6, Drayton 9, Kibler 2, Weller 4, Koelsch 9
BH – Loveless 4, Crumley 10, Kindall 5, Glenn 12, Brewer 19, Walker 4