Well, no one saw that coming.
Liberty High School knocked off No. 1 River Ridge Hawks, 66-55, in the Class 2A West Central/SeaKing semifinals at Foss High School on Wednesday night. The Hawks started the game strong, heading into halftime with a 39-33 lead — and then went south.
Jaden White owned the first half for River Ridge. The 5-foot-10 senior guard scored 12 of the Hawks’ 15 in the first quarter and had another five in the second. He did most of his damage from long range, hitting four 3-point shots over the course of the first half.
The second half was a different story for White, who was held scoreless and came up blank on countless 3-point attempts.
“When shots aren’t falling, we gotta win in a different way,” White said. “We couldn't do that tonight, they just outplayed us.”
The Hawks led by eight with just under three minutes to play before the end of the half, but slowly watched their advantage get whittled away by intense offensive pressure from Liberty. Throughout the game the Patriots (12-10) found Noble Cooper — game-high 27 points — who was able to find himself space and hit some clutch shots to keep them within striking distance of the Hawks.
River Ridge was in a full-court press the entire game, but it seemed like Liberty had the answer for the pressure at every turn. Backed by their raucous crowd, the Patriots finished the game firing on all cylinders.
The Patriots obtained their first lead in the game with 3 minutes, 14 seconds left to play in the third. They outscored the Hawks 21-9 in the third and ran away with it from there, winning a once-close game by 11 points.
“Going into Saturday we have to be humble and hungry,” White said. “We have to buy into the process, just like Coach (John) Barbee tells us at practice.”
Liberty moves into the championship round to face North Kitsap while River Ridge, who already sealed a district bid with its last win, will face their 2A SPSL league opponent Steilacoom (16-7) — who they defeated both times during the regular season — for third place at 3:30 p.m. at Curtis High School on Saturday.
North Kitsap Vikings 45, Steilacoom 41: With three minutes remaining and his team trailing by two, things looked bleak for Cole Rabedeaux and the Vikings. But in the waning minutes of the game Rabedeaux stepped up and scored six of his game-high 17 points to spark the Vikings, who held the Sentinels scoreless in the remainder of the game.
The Vikings (20-4) secured a spot in the 2A SeaKing/West Central bidistrict tournament championship and will face Liberty at Foss High School at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday. The Sentinels (16-7) will play River Ridge at Curtis Saturday at 3: 30 p.m, in a game that will decide seeding for the regional round of the state tournament.
Renton 54, Washington 48: The Indians outscored the Patriots 18-10 en route to a six-point victory Wednesday night. Dabreon Waters-Mitchell led Renton (14-11) with a team-high 13.
The Indians avoided elimination with the victory and will play Lindbergh at Curtis Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in a game that will decide seeding for the regional round of the state tournament.
Lindbergh 69, White River 53: Kelton Williams’ game-high 20 points propelled the Eagles to a 16-point victory over the Hornets on Wednesday night.
The Eagles (16-7) will face Renton Saturday at Curtis at 3:30 p.m. in a game that will decide seeding for the regional round of the state tournament.
The Hornets (15-8) were led in scoring by Alex Wallen’s 18 and are eliminated with the loss.
Timberline 66, Olympia 56: The third time turned out to be the charm for the Blazers.
After dropping two regular-season games to its 4A Narrows League rival, Timberline came back to win the one that counted at Stadium High School.
Led by Jarryn Bush, who had a game-high 21 points, the Blazers secured a fourth straight trip to the state regionals. Erik Stevenson added another 13 for Timberline, while Jaelen Bush had 10.
Timberline finished 23 of 44 shooting (52 percent).
Tariq Romain — who scored eight — stamped it when he swiped the ball and finished with a breakaway layup at the other end to give Timberline a six-point advantage with 45 seconds to play.
Olympia missed its final six field goal attempts as time expired.
Hunter Sipe led Olympia with 15 points, while Eddie Beusch and Liam Murphy each had 10.
Timberline (15-8) will play Kentridge (15-10) for fifth or sixth place in the 4A West Central District tournament at noon Saturday at Mt. Tahoma High School.
Kentridge 62, Yelm 49: The Tornados just missed ending a 13-year state playoff drought.
The Chargers slipped away in the second half to knock Yelm out of the 4A WCD tournament in a loser-out game at Stadium.
Three players posted double digits for Kentridge, led by Ethan Walker’s game-high 27 points.
Christian Davis led Yelm with 24 points, while Chad Davis scored 11 and Trent Lawton had nine.
Kennedy Catholic 65, Foss 59 (OT): The Lancers needed extra time, but they eventually defeated the Falcons in a Class 3A bidistrict elimination game at Clover Park High School.
Junior guard Emillio Mancol's 24 points led the Lancers (17-7).
The Lancers will play Lincoln at noon Saturday in a matchup to determine the fifth and sixth seeds to the regional round of the state tournament.
No. 6 Lincoln 83, Auburn Riverside 69: Senior guards Alvin Johnson and Trevion Brown propelled the Abes to a Class 3A state regional berth with a bidstrict victory.
Johnson scored 21 points and Brown added 20 as they helped end Riverside's season.
The Abes (20-4) will play Kennedy Catholic at noon Saturday at Mount Tahoma in a game that will decide seeding for the regional round of the state tournament.
Washougal 82, W.F. West 78: Beyonce Bea hit a 3-pointer for the Panthers at the buzzer to take the Bearcats to overtime at Centralia High School.
And that’s where W.F. West’s run in the 2A Southwest District 4 tournament ended.
The Bearcats put up 21 points in the second quarter to even the game at the half — and led by six at the end of the third.
But Bea scored a game-high 33 points, and Alyssa Blankenship had another 19 to send W.F. West home.
Lexie Strasser scored a team-high 25 for the Bearcats, while Erika Brumfield had 14 and Shasta Lofgren had 11.
Hockinson 54, Centralia 43: The Hawks controlled all four quarters to knock the Tigers out of the 2A Southwest District 4 tournament in a loser-out game at W.F. West High School.
Hannah Neibauer put on a show for Hockinson with 24 points, 12 steals, six assists and five rebounds.
Elma 68, Stevenson 34: The Eagles routed the Bulldogs to stay alive in the 1A Southwest District 4 tournament.
A 25-point third — led by three 3-pointers from Maddie Thompson — iced it for the Eagles as they took a 58-25 lead.
Elma (18-4) will play 1A EvCo rival Montesano (20-3) in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m. Friday at W.F. West. Winner moves on to state, loser is out.
Charles Wright Academy 52, Coupeville 48: Majestic Moler (16 points), Shoni Pritchett (12) and Naomi Pikes (10) all scored in double digits as the Tarriers knocked off the Wolves.
The Tarriers (16-5) will face Bellevue Christian in the championship game at Foss at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Lauren Smith and Lucas Shannon contributed to this report