T-Birds Put Clamps on Wolves in Rivalry Win

Jan. 7—Box score

At Black Hills (Tumwater)

T-BIRDS 53, WOLVES 38

Tumwater 12 15 14 8 — 53

Black Hills 2 9 11 16 — 38

Tumwater: Collins 18, L. Brewer 10, Harroun 8, Reid 7, Hopkins 7, Oram 3

Black Hills: Rongen 16, Stallings 11, Nysted 6, Ellison 4, Johnson 1

TUMWATER — The stands were full and the lights were bright at Black Hills on Friday, with the Wolves and their fans buzzing for a matchup between the only two undefeated-in-league teams left in the 2A EvCo, which happened to be a rivalry to boot.

It took about five minutes for No. 6 Tumwater and the T-Birds' defense to suck out all of that energy, en route to one-way 53-38 win that wasn't always that pretty but didn't feel close for long.

"That's everything that we try to put into it: defense, defense, defense," Tumwater coach Josh Wilson said. "We've played some good teams, but I feel like it's gotten away from us a little bit. So that first-half focus was really nice to see. You can just tell when they're focused, because the energy level is up and they're flying around and testing shots."

Tumwater held Black Hills to just two points in the first quarter, forcing five turnovers in the first 2:15 of gametime and eight in the period. By halftime, the Wolves were still on just 11 points, nine of which came from senior forward Keagan Rongen.

Rongen finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Wolves, but early on, he got as good as he gave from Tumwater senior Gunnar Harroun, who dominated the low post with seven blocks, and added 10 rebounds for good measure.

"He's definitely capable of that, and we have to utilize his length," Wilson said. "When Gunnar has confidence, we're a much better team. We kind of go how he goes a lot of the time, so it was great to see him battle it out down there."

The T-Birds stretched their lead to 16 points in the second quarter, finding their stroke from distance with Luke Brewer, Luke Reid, and Brayden Oram all burying 3-pointers.

Tumwater finally combined its defensive effort with offense in the third, going on a 12-6 run with eight points coming in transition, and 10 coming from the hands of Andrew Collins.

Collins finished with 18 points to lead all scorers, and also posted six assists, six rebounds, and three steals.

"It's always a focus for us to push it in transition, and finally we got loose a little bit, and he got out and ran," Wilson said. "He's a special kid when he's going toward the basket, and he finishes at the hoop. It's always nice to see him out and running in open space."

Luke Brewer finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, and three steals. Reid and Connor Hopkins both scored seven points; the former had three assists, while the latter added five rebounds.

Johnnie Stallings was the only other Wolf to finish in double-digits, logging 11 points.

"We knew we would have to be perfect in everything that we did, and we just weren't tonight," BH coach Jeff Gallagher said. "I was really pleased with our defensive gameplan, but we couldn't buy a basket, and you've got to score against those guys."

Tumwater will get another tough road test next Wednesday, going to Chehalis to face W.F. West. For its part, Black Hills will look to bounce back against Centralia.