T-Birds Bound for Yakima After Third-Quarter Knockout Blow


TUMWATER — The Tumwater boys basketball team might have been up by 15 points two minutes into the third quarter of its State opening-round game against Foss on Saturday, but head coach Josh Wilson could feel the high-energy, physical struggle starting to slip away.

So the Thunderbird skipper roared for a 30-second timeout, huddled his team up on the court, and laid down the law in a way that just about the entire gymnasium could hear.

”I was so tired of ticky-tack stuff, throwing your hands up and expecting to solve something for you,” Wilson said. “You can only control what you can control, complaining gets nobody anywhere, so we might as well work hard, put our nose down, and get through it.”

The Falcons got the lead down to 10, but from there the T-Birds responded, with a decisive flurry that paved their way to a 63-48 win that sends them to Yakima.

And they did it with some flare.

Just past the midway point of the quarter, Luke Brewer took a shot away from the ball and went flying across the half-court. As he looked toward the ref, half of the players stopped to look at him, leaving Andrew Collins to come off a pick-and-roll with a path to an open slam dunk in front of him.

“I just rose up as high as I could and put it down,” Collins said.

Back down the other way, Tumwater got a stop on defense, and Brewer pulled up in transition for an easy jumper, prompting the student section to chant, “You can’t guard him.” The next time down the court, Brewer hit a 3-pointer in the corner; this time, the students chanted “Who’s your daddy?”

And the time after that, Luke Reid picked up his dribble well beyond the arc and lofted up a perfect ball for Collins to jam down, sending the T-Bird faithful into wordless delirium.

“It was just there and he saw me,” Collins said. “We’ve been friends since we were 3 years old, playing together since we were like 5. We have a connection that no one else does on the court.”

In a minute and a half, the lead was back out to 15 at 44-29, and though there was still over 10 minutes left to play, it was just about academic.

“Those sealed the deal,” Collins said. “I remember after that, a couple of the players on the other team quit, and were saying like, ‘Good game.’ I could just tell that they gave up after a couple of momentum plays that we had.”

Collins finished with a game-high 18 points, and added nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two steals. Brewer added 15 points, while Gunnar Harroun had 10 down low, including four of the T-Birds’ first six of the game as both teams struggled to get into a rhythm.

Tumwater and Foss combined for 14 turnovers in the first half, and the score sat at 6-5 six-and-a-half minutes in.

From there, though, Tanner Brewer hit an easy look in the post, and the T-Birds went on an 8-0 run in the final minute, punctuated by two Brayden Oram 3-pointers to get the lead out to 16-5.

“I think the defense was the main key,” Collins said. “Ending with just five points for them at the end of the first quarter really gave us a jump of energy and a boost that we needed.”

Foss briefly got the deficit back under 10 early in the second, before Collins converted a 3-point play to make it 25-9 three minutes in. Right after that, Reid lobbed the ball off the backboard for Brewer for a jam of his own, and the lead would stay in double-digits the rest of the night.

Reid led the T-Birds with 11 rebounds from his guard spot, working in among the trees down low, and also had four assists.

As the clock wound down in the fourth quarter, the Tumwater students had one more chant in store: “We want Renton.” The No. 3 Red Hawks were upset in their own opening-round matchup by No. 5 Lynden, and the T-Birds will face off against them Wednesday at the SunDome at 9 a.m., in a loser-out matchup.

“We’ve got a group of seniors that wants to keep playing,” Wilson said. “I don’t know if anybody’s realized how much experience we have playing in the state tournament. We’ve been on that floor for a period of time, so I’m hoping that plays to our advantage this week.”