It took the Black Hills High School girls basketball team a shaky first half to find its rhythm.
But, as soon as senior Emma Duff grabbed an offensive rebound and went back up for a layup 20 seconds into the third quarter, the Wolves picked up where they left off last season.
A productive second half — in which Duff scored 13 of her game-high 18 points — helped Black Hills top Timberline, 49-39, in a nonleague season opener on Wednesday night at Timberline High School.
“It was a little messy at the beginning,” said Duff, a Western Washington University commit. “But, I’m glad that we pulled it out, because that’s just going to be a big confidence boost for everyone.”
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The Blazers were quick in transition, and controlled the pace for most of the first half to take a 17-16 lead into halftime.
“We were jittery, and we let the game go too fast,” Black Hills coach Tanya Greenfield said. “That’s a fast team. We let them dictate the pace.”
Rayanna Dyas led the Blazers with 11 points, while Kiara Brooks had nine, and Cadence Monti added seven.
Black Hills scored four points in the second quarter before regaining the lead on Duff’s layup early in the third.
“I think a lot of us — me, Maisy (Williams), Lindsey (Nurmi) — we weren’t hitting shots, so that kind of brought the team down,” Duff said. “Once we picked it up, the momentum was there and we kept rolling.”
The two teams traded the lead five times in the third quarter, before Duff nailed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wolves the lead for good.
Williams, a sophomore, contributed 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Wolves, while senior Taylor Patti and freshman Megan River each added six points.
“Once we slowed it down and got in the groove of our game, I think that’s what happened in the second half versus the first half,” Greenfield said.
Black Hills, which took sixth at the Class 2A tournament in Yakima last March, has several tough nonleague opponents scheduled before 2A Evergreen Conference play begins in January.
That, Greenfield anticipates, will give the Wolves a good idea of where this season just might be headed.
“We’re all really excited,” Duff said. “State has been the goal all four years for me, so it’s really exciting having that experience last year.
“It’s going to take us further, I think.”
That could happen. With every starter returning except the graduated Sammi Payne, the Wolves could be headed for a deep playoff run, perhaps a spot in the 2A title game in Yakima, come March.
Maybe it’s too early to say that, but maybe it’s not.
“That’s what the team has set for their goal,” Greenfield said. “We’ve said it out loud.”
Black Hills 12 4 18 15_49
Timberline 7 10 15 7_39
BH – Emma Duff 18, Maisy Williams 12, Taylor Patti 6, Megan River 6, Rachel LaBelle 3, Lindsey Nurmi 3, Kayley Moloney 1.
T – Rayanna Dyas 11, Kiara Brooks 9, Cadence Monti 7, Natalie Stark 6, Briyanna Gardner 2, Mia Harriott 2, Keshara Romain 2.