Prep boys basketball: Tumwater blitzes past open division field


Reflection of last season is how the Tumwater High School boys basketball team is honing in the approach for this summer.

Attention to detail, improved chemistry and defensive intensity are what the Thunderbirds want to see happen over the course of two months.

“Executing and doing all the little things,” guard Sahara Anthony III said.

Tumwater rebounded from losing its first game of the 25th annual Hub City Classic on Saturday to triumph in the Class 1B-4A Open Division on Sunday with a steamrolling 25-point win over Napavine.

The two programs played to a 10-point victory for the Tigers, but that proved to be the only setback the T-Birds would face.

They only beat Adna and Winlock by single digits the rest of the way.

“You never really know what to expect and I’m super happy they played as hard as they did,” Tumwater head coach Josh Wilson said. “The chemistry seemed really good this weekend.”

Gone is the scoring and production from returning first team player Clay Morgan. Anthony returns as a second-team pick and there were glimpses into what the T-Birds may feature in 2024-25.

Pushing the pace and scoring in transition was beneficial against Napavine in building an early double digit cushion. Tumwater pressed down on the gas several times to balloon the gap to over 20.

It did the same thing over 3A Kelso when the contest got close.

“They were buying into concepts,” Wilson said. “Hopefully we can make it up in those (pushing the pace) kind of ways.”

Tumwater lost to rival W.F. West in the Class 2A District 4 tournament in a winner to state affair. That loss is what Wilson referred to as suffering a “third-degree burn.”

Anthony III felt the same way.

“We were in the hospital after that one,” he said. “We have high expectations to go farther than we did last year.”

Napavine using summer to adjust to new leadership

One of the longest standing coaches in the area in Napavine’s Rex Stanley retired after over two decades of roaming the sidelines.

Now, it is Eric Hersman’s team. He was the junior varsity coach for a couple seasons and an assistant under Stanley.

“We got some room to grow, but we did some good things,” Hersman said. “They’re adjusting pretty well.”

The Tigers left Spokane with a trophy last winter, but will need to find a replacement for all-area MVP James Grose. First-team all-league player Karsen Denault is expected to anchor the incoming group.

He’ll have plenty of help alongside Beckett Landrum, who they connected on an alley-oop against Tenino, and post Jack Nelson. 

“I want us to have a deep understanding of how to play the game,” Hersman said.

While Hersman will differentiate himself from his predecessor and shape his own coaching style, there will be some constants.

For many of the longtime coaches at Napavine, there’s a standard. Hersman isn’t shying away from that.

“I would be ignorant to not do some things the same way,” he said. “Just learning new tweaks. A lot of it has similar principles.”

Tenino figuring out depth behind starters

One of the intriguing storylines on the boys side is the starting five of the Beavers. Off their first state tournament berth in 17 years, they didn't lose a starter and are seeking a tournament victory.

Noah Schow, Preston Snider and Ashton Moore were the notable names to play in Sunday’s Hub City Classic. Tenino played a competitive game against Napavine in the open division semifinals, but dropped a 67-61 contest.

“It shows we (have) the talent to compete,” Schow said.

Schow was adamant that depth will be a key factor in the Beavers season-long destiny. Which is what he views as the best use for the summer.

“It will help us,” the guard said. “Our coaches are wanting to put in a new offense this summer. Already knowing what that offense is going into next year, instead of learning it two weeks before our first game, will help us big time.”

In his own game, Schow wants to be a facilitator when his shot isn’t falling. Building chemistry with his new teammates is one of his own goals.

“It’s helping us grow as a team and help us improve,” he said.

Adna moving into post-Salme era

For much of the winter, the Pirates were dealt the hand of playing without Braeden Salme, one of the top scorers in the C2BL last season.

It ended up being a preview for how coach Luke Salme will piece together a squad that aims to remain in the thick of the District 4 race.

“We want lots of competitive games,” Coach Salme said. “Just playing together and getting those minutes to build confidence.”

Trevin Salme and Gavan Muller were a pair of returning contributors that were a part of a 2-1 day that featured a 90-point outburst in Adna’s first game of the day.

Two players – Beau Miller and Jackson Knittas – didn’t play, but Coach Salme feels those two are going to help in the rebounding and size department.

“We’re not going to be the biggest team,” Coach Salme said. “Embrace being physical and we’ll have to rebound. I’ve seen growth in each and every game.”