The confluence of events came together to produce a Class 2A Evergreen Conference title on Tuesday night, the first step of several the T-Birds boys basketball team hopes lie ahead as they now prepare for the playoffs.
Tumwater dominated rival Black Hills on the T-Birds’ senior night, holding the Wolves without a field goal in the first quarter and going on to record a 58-38 victory.
The win completes a perfect league schedule for Tumwater (16-4 overall, 12-0 league), who clinched the 2A EvCo championship.
“I don’t think many teams have won a league title undefeated,” Tumwater coach Josh Wilson said. “That’s a pretty tough task to do. It feels pretty good to accomplish that and be back-to-back league champs.”
The Wolves (13-6, 9-2) have suffered their only two losses in the conference this season to Tumwater. They have one game remaining before the postseason begins.
Tumwater scored the game’s first 12 points before a pair of Johnnie Stallings free throws finally got Black Hills on the board with 23 seconds left in the first quarter. Keagan Rongen made the Wolves’ first shot from the field to open the second quarter scoring, and Black Hills eventually trimmed a 12-point deficit to 14-7 on another Rongen layup with 5:27 left in the first half.
It was as close as the Wolves would get all night.
“No doubt about it, defense wins games,” Wilson said. “Tonight, the guys pure and simple, hard tough defense.”
On the other side, Tumwater’s seniors enjoyed the recognition that comes with playing their final regular-season home game. Guard Luke Brewer then was recognized for moving into second place on the T-Birds’ all-time scoring list last week.
He came into Tuesday with 1,079 points in his career. And against Black Hills, the senior added 15 more to the total before he fouled out with 2:32 left in the game.
By then, this one was long decided, though.
“We loved to take it to them,” Brewer said afterwards. “It was awesome, especially our rivals. We wanted them to think about this for the rest of their lives.”
Two more of the seven seniors honored also added double figures scoring in the victory — with Andrew Collins and Luke Reid each scoring 11 points.
The T-Birds led this one by as many as 27 points, getting an 8-0 run to end the third quarter on two Brewer free throws for a 43-16 lead going into the final eight minutes.
Even as Black Hills made a mini 10-3 run to start the fourth quarter, the big crowd of Tumwater students already were chanting, “It’s all over. It’s all over.”
The teams basically traded baskets the rest of the way before it settled into the 20-point margin. That margin was almost identical to the first time these teams met on Jan. 6 at Black Hills, in a 66-48 Tumwater win.
Now the T-Birds have the unbeaten conference season heading into the playoffs.
“It’s pretty huge,” Brewer said. “But there’s better competition outside of our league. We needed that. It’s nice to have the undefeated season, and we needed it. But it’s not super big going forward.”
Tumwater 48, Black Hills 16
Kylie Waltermeyer made a single-game school record seven 3-pointers for a game-high 21 points to lead the T-Birds’ dominating performance. Tumwater scored the first 33 points of the game to claim its share, at least, of the 2A EvCo girls basketball title.
W.F. West can tie the T-Birds with wins in its final two league games of the season, at Centralia on Wednesday and at home against Aberdeen on Friday.
Tumwater held the rival Wolves scoreless in the first half and led 28-0 at the break. When Black Hills finally did get on the board, it came via two free throws from Kiley McMahon.
The Wolves didn’t make their first field goal until Claire Johnson’s shot in the lane with 1:36 to go in the third quarter. By that time, the Wolves had missed their first 32 shots of the game, and ultimately finished 6-for-48.