T-Birds Scuffle Again, Fall to Monarchs in Quarterfinals


YAKIMA — Once again, the Tumwater boys basketball team’s downfall resides in Longview. 

For the second straight year, the T-Birds saw their championship aspirations ruined by a squad from Robert Long’s Planned City, this time dropping their quarterfinal matchup in the 2A state tournament to No. 4 Mark Morris 60-51.

But to the T-Birds, more of the blame will lie internally, after another rough outing on the offensive side of the ball.

”You’ve kind of got to score at least a little bit,” Tumwater coach Josh Wilson. “We shot way too many threes. We didn’t shoot the ball well from three last game, we started out shooting poorly. You can’t continue to shoot threes and expect something to change randomly.”

The Thunderbirds missed all 12 of their first-half attempts from beyond the arc, finishing at 4 for 26 on the game. Through eight quarters in the past two days in Yakima, Tumwater is shooting 10% from long range, and 36% from the field in general.

It took Tumwater over a quarter to hit a field goal in the halfcourt, after managing just six first-quarter points on two transition buckets and a pair of free throws. For its part, Mark Morris didn’t shoot much better, but went to the line 12 times in the opening period, pushing out to a 19-8 lead early.

“I think everybody misses (at State),” Wilson said. “It’s a new ball, a brand new ball that you play with. The ball dies on the floor. There’s a little different depth perception in here, and it’s a high-pressure environment.”

But while Wednesday saw Tumwater control possession despite its misses, holding onto the ball to at least not let Renton score, Thursday was a turnover-fest. The Thunderbirds gave the ball away 15 times in the first half alone, and 25 times in the game.

Meanwhile, Mark Morris continued to get to the line, finishing the morning 25 for 34 from the stripe; four of the Monarchs five starters hit at least five free throws.

“Those types of things, those are the little things in basketball that make it surprising we were even that close when you look at the stat sheet,” Wilson said.

For a while, though, Tumwater was that close. As the second quarter started, the T-Birds started landing their own pressure and got out running. A 14-4 run in the second cut the deficit to three points at halftime, and it would have been better if Tumwater hadn’t blown four transition opportunities on either missed layups or turnovers.

The run continued out of halftime, and with 5:28 to go in the third, Andrew Collins hit a jumper that gave Tumwater its first lead of the game at 24-23. Mark Morris immediately responded with a Malakai Gray bucket to spark a quick run, but Tumwater came back, and Tanner Brewer hit a putback to tie things up at 30-30 with just over a minute to go.

That’s when the switch finally flipped for good. Mark Morris hit a free throw, then got a three-point play in the final 10 seconds of the quarter. Coming back for the fourth, Gray drilled a 3-pointer — the first triple of the game for either team — and Kobe Parlin took the ball the other way for a transition layup, and within a minute, the Monarchs had their lead up to nine.

Andrew Collins led Tumwater with 18 points. Luke Brewer had 10, hitting double-digits with his only made 3-pointer, with eight seconds left in the game, and Brayden Oram added nine.

Tumwater will get a day to recover and try to find its offense, before getting one last early-morning showdown to cap its season. The T-Birds find themselves in the same situation they were in last year, playing for fourth place, and will take on either No. 10 Enumclaw in a consolation semifinal.

“The message is that if you lose tomorrow, they’re definitely going to regret this, the seven seniors, for the rest of their lives,” Wilson said. “They’ll look back and they’ll regret it. If they can pull it together and get that fourth-place trophy, not many people get a win on their last day at State. That’s got to be the goal. We did it last year, we’re going to have to battle and it’s going to be a fight, but hopefully our guys are up to the task.”