Kelso may have been the de facto home team, playing just across the freeway from its campus, but the 2A No. 8 Tumwater girls basketball team made itself right at home at Lower Columbia College’s Myklebust Court on Monday, pulling away and coasting to a 39-25 win at the LCC MLK Day Classic.
What started out just as a run turned into the story of the night for the T-Birds, who only allowed two field goals and five points in the first half, leading 29-5 after 16 minutes of play.
“The big thing for us is what we can control: effort and playing good defense, and we showed that in the first half,” Tumwater coach Nathan Buchheit said. “I loved the way we started off the game, and every of that nature. It’s always good to play somebody different, see new faces.”
The T-Birds shut the Hilanders out for five and a half minutes to start the proceedings, with Kelso scoring its first points on a 3-pointer with 2:32 to go in the first. From there, it would be another five minutes of gametime before it would find the bucket again; by that time, Tumwater had piled on to a 23-5 lead.
Tumwater forced 15 turnovers in that dominant first half, and finished with 21 takeaways on the day. Regan Brewer led the way with four steals, and the T-Birds came away with nine as a team.
But while the transition game was there at times, the Thunderbirds had even more success down low, crashing the offensive glass over and over. Tumwater came down with seven offensive rebounds in the first half, and turned them into eight second-chance points. By the end of the game, it had racked up 12 offensive rebounds, led by three apiece from Brewer and Morgan Simmons.
“The girls did a good job of being in the right place at the right time today, and took advantage of the opportunities when we got them,” Buchheit said.
Cierra Larson led the Thunderbirds in the scoring column with 11 points, nine of which came in the first half in the post and on short jumpers from inside the key.
“Ultimately, if you’re doing the little things right, the ball’s going to find you, and today it found her,” Buchheit. “She did well.”
Brewer added 10 points, and Simmons and Kendall Gjurasic both scored eight.
Kelso scored 12 of its points in a three-and-a-half minute span in the third quarter, and eight in the final two and a half minutes of the game; the Hilanders managed just 10 made field goals all game.
Tumwater will get back to 2A EvCo action Wednesday when it hosts Rochester.