LONGVIEW — Stacking the schedule with big-time opponents can be great experience in the long run, but it also helps to win, and the 2A No. 7 Tumwater boys basketball team did just that, coming from behind multiple times to beat 4A Skyview 63-61.
It was the Thunderbirds’ fourth crack at a 4A team this season; they lost to three ranked teams at the Hardwood Invite in Seattle in December, and also fell to 3A Timberline in a true road test. This time around, Tumwater didn’t just punch above its weight; it proved it could win a 12-round fight.
“For a lot of different reasons, that was a massive game to win for us to come out on top of,” Tumwater coach Josh Wilson said. “If we’re lucky enough to go through the playoffs, RPI is a super important thing. And two, just to get down multiple times and then battle back out of it shows a lot about our guys. It’s really nice to see that, because we know we’re going to see holes.”
Monday afternoon, the Thunderbirds saw two of them. Skyview let loose on a barrage from long range to open the proceedings, while a lost Tumwater offense managed just eight points in the first eight minutes. When the Storm scored on its first possession of the second quarter, it stretched the lead out to 12 points.
Tumwater went back to its basics to get going offensively in the second quarter, and narrowed the gap to four points at halftime. Coming out of the break, Luke Brewer took over with nine points in a minute and a half, converting a four-point play with 5:24 left in the third quarter to give the T-Birds their first lead since 2-0.
“He’s just a pretty steady leader for us,” Wilson said. “When he gets going, it obviously helps us out. He was tough and stayed the course, and was able to see the shots going in in the second half on that run. He’s a tough player, a tough guy. Proud of him and his leadership for sure.”
But as soon as Tumwater took the lead, Skyview roared back, with a 9-2 run helping to get the gap back to seven points going into the final quarter.
“It was a matter of closing that gap as soon as you possibly can to keep the game close, and then try to get ahead,” Wilson said. “That was our goal, that was what we talked about in the timeout.”
The Thunderbirds executed perfectly. A Tanner Brewer putback closed the gap to 50-48, and on the next possession, Luke Brewer hit Andrew Collins on Tumwater’s signature backdoor play — the fourth time the T-Birds went to that well — to tie things at 50-50.
“Every team we’ve played so far, they’re yelling ‘Watch the back cut,’ and we still get them,” Luke Brewer said.
A possession later, he found the rack in transition to give Tumwater the lead, and things really got wild.
Trading baskets and free throws, Tumwater finally got its first multiple-possession lead of the game when Tanner Brewer came down with two straight offensive rebounds; he was fouled after corralling the second, and the inbounds play went straight to Luke Reid, who buried a 3-pointer.
Then, as the clock ran under a minute, Collins came down with an offensive board off a Luke Brewer miss, setting up another Reid bucket that iced the win.
“We had no quit,” Wilson said. “There’s no strategy there at all, just Andrew and Tanner battling it out and hustling to get their hands on the ball… That’s what we need to see out of those guys.”
Luke Brewer finished with 26 points to lead the T-Birds, hitting three 3-pointers and going 7 for 8 at the free-throw line down the stretch. On his hot run in the third quarter, he crossed the 1,000-point threshold for his career.
Brayden Oram pitched in 12 points. Collins and Tanner Brewer both had eight points, with Collins adding a team-high seven rebounds and four assists, and Reid scored seven.
“It was a complete team win today, which is always nice to see,” Wilson said.
Tumwater will get right back to action, facing Rochester on the road on Tuesday.