LONGVIEW - Moments after Tumwater sealed its second straight 2A state tournament berth with a victory in an 81-67 District IV boys winner-to-state, loser-out game against R.A. Long, the T-Birds started to look ahead to next week's state tournament in Yakima.
They wanted to avenge what happened last year – two losses in two days, knocking them out of the tournament – in what was Tumwater’s first state appearance since 1998.
“It’s nice to be back, but we want more,” Tumwater coach Curtis Medved said.
“We’re trying to flush all of last year (at state), and focus on getting further this year,” Tumwater guard Kyle Warner said.
The T-Birds earned the No. 4 seed out of Southwest District IV. They will learn their opening-round opponent for the state tournament at today’s state draw at WIAA headquarters in Renton.
Whether it was long-range shooting, hustle plays on defense, or big-time rebounding, the Thunderbirds were doing it all on the floor.
And it was just the offensive outburst the team was looking for.
As a team, Tumwater made 10 3-pointers, compared to R.A. Long’s two, and got 22 points from the free throw line.
When the T-Birds weren’t pressuring the ball on the perimeter, they were forcing R.A. Long to dish the ball inside.
“That’s how our defense plays,” said Jordan Boede, who finished with 15 points. “We play high and don’t let people get easy shots.”
Tumwater used a mini 5-0 run in the final minute of the first half to build a 10-point lead at 40-30.
But three minutes into the third quarter, R.A. Long cut Tumwater’s lead to five at 48-43 after a 9-0 run, which forced Medved to call a timeout.
On consecutive possessions after the timeout, Tumwater hit back-to-back-to-back 3s – one by Boede and two by Warner – for a 9-0 run of its own in a span of 1 minute, 26 seconds to make the lead 59-54 with 2:23 remaining in the third quarter.
“It was a good feeling,” Warner said of the 9-0 run. “We weren’t playing as well as we should have. The energy the team possessed after that really got us back in it.”
The closest the Lumberjacks got in the fourth quarter was 70-65, after which Tumwater reeled off 11 straight points – with six coming at the free throw line.
The first half featured 24 fouls, including 14 on Tumwater. The Lumberjacks were in the double bonus from 7:28 left in the second quarter. However, they converted only 11-of-20 from the free-throw line in the first half.
Daniel Hinkle more than doubled his season scoring average with 13 of his 15 points in the first half.
Warner led Tumwater with 17 points, and all of his field goals were 3-pointers (four).
Hockinson defeated Chehalis, 60-49, to secure a state berth and the No. 3 seed from District IV.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473