The first time W.F. West and Tumwater met, back on May 24, the Bearcats’ six-point halftime deficit was just a footnote.
The second time around — in the District 4 2A girls basketball championship game — the Thunderbirds’ identical halftime lead was foreshadowing.
Tumwater ran away in the second half, and its defense held the Bearcats under 40 points for the first time all season in a 58-31 win Thursday in Chehalis.
Isabella Lund and Aubrey Amendala each scored 13 points to lead Tumwater, which shot an efficient 56% (24 of 43) from the field in the win.
The Bearcats, meanwhile, went just 10 of 50 from the field.
“We made a few more shots the first time, so that’s kind of the easy answer,” W.F. West coach Kyle Karnofski said, on the differences between the teams’ two meetings. “They shot better this time than they did, comparatively, the first time. I mean, it’s simple basketball, I guess. I didn’t think it was a whole lot different than that.”
Tumwater led 26-20 at halftime and the Bearcats cut the lead to 28-24 on a bucket from Drea Brumfield with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.
That basket, however, was the last field goal W.F. West would convert. The Thunderbirds went on a 20-1 run, which included 10 quick points to open the fourth quarter. Amendala and Lund hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the fourth — the only threes Tumwater hit all game — to help push the lead to 23 points.
“We had to try to cut into it, but in order to do that you’ve got to get a bucket,” Karnofski said. “It’s a hard situation to be in, because you don’t want to overdo it, and press and give them lay-ins; you don’t want to foul them, because it blows the lead even more, potentially, if they start making those and if you don’t counter it.”
There was no counter for the Thunderbirds on Thursday. While W.F. West forced 16 turnovers, Tumwater made the most of its opportunities and outrebounded the Bearcats 32-20, with Amendala grabbing eight boards.
“They shot really well,” Karnofski said. “They always play hard, so it’s kind of their way of play, honestly.”
Natalie Sumrok added 12 points and six rebounds and Cassie Kaufman chipped in 11 for Tumwater, which finished the year 15-2 and won its first district title in at least 15 years. The Thunderbirds will lose just one player to graduation and will return every player who scored Thursday.
Brumfield led W.F. West with 13 points and seven rebounds. Lexi Roberts and Carlie Deskins each added six, with Deskins grabbing five rebounds.
W.F. West finished the cancellation-plagued “2020-21” season with a 16-1 record.
“I couldn’t be more proud. Yeah, this is the worst possible ending — you’re playing your rival, and it’s not the way you want to finish,” Karnofski said. “But you think back to where you were, and you’ve got to look at the positives. We got these kids to play, and in the big picture, that’s awesome.”
W.F. West lost to Black Hills in last year’s district finals.
“This one hurts. It’s going to hurt, knowing that for the second year in a row we got second, which is not the ideal situation,” he said. “But I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”
It was the final prep game for W.F. West seniors Maliyah Lockwood and Madi Mencke.
Karnofski praised Lockwood for her hard work.
“She’s worked her butt off to get where she is,” he said. “She’s a great kid. The girls love her.”
Mencke finished her career with more than 400 points, 100 steals, and 100 assists.
“You’re not going to find many girls that are just willing to go down and play defense like that, and not worry so much about getting hers or getting a shot,” he said. “She was a great leader for us all year. She stepped into that role phenomenally.”