Six days before Monday night’s battle for second place, the River Ridge High School boys basketball team let a lead slip away late on the road at Clover Park.
That’s what caused the tiebreaker — which decided the No. 2 seed out of the Class 2A South Puget Sound League’s Sound Division — to begin with.
In response, the ninth-ranked Hawks jetted out to an early lead on Monday, pushed it beyond 30 points in the third quarter, and closed out an 83-44 victory over the Warriors at home.
“To come back and respond the way we did, I’m really proud of them. … I think we’re really playing well,” River Ridge coach John Barbee said.
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River Ridge (16-6, 11-4 2A SPSL Sound) is now guaranteed one of the 2A SPSL’s top four seeds into the 2A West Central District tournament.
“We’re definitely peaking right now,” River Ridge forward Kelle Sanders said. “We’re definitely playing the best basketball we’ve played all season right now.
“This is when we want to play the best basketball of our season, because it’s playoff time. There’s no room for mistakes in the playoffs, so we’ve got to play as best we can.”
River Ridge has scored 270 points — and averaged 90 per game — since that loss to Clover Park (13-8, 10-5) last week.
“I think, for the last week, our basketball has been tremendous,” Barbee said. “We’re playing team basketball, sharing it. We look good playing. Even our bench is into it. … I think they’re having a lot of fun.”
The Hawks had five players in double figures on Monday night: Sanders (19 points), Alex Coleman (15), Jordan Skipper-Brown (13), DeNero Washington (13) and Josh Kennedy (11).
Sanders led the way, controlling the paint in his highest scoring game of the season.
Sanders, a Washington State University football commit, said he has taken more of a leadership role lately.
He helped the Hawks get out to a quick lead, and scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in the first half.
“My guys were finding me open and getting me good looks, so I’ve just got to finish,” Sanders said.
His basket with two minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the second quarter gave River Ridge a double-digit lead before the Hawks took a 39-25 lead into halftime.
Coleman drilled his fifth 3-pointer with 5:29 to go in the third — all 15 of his points were from beyond the arc — to give River Ridge a 20-point cushion.
Washington pushed the lead to 30 points with 1:21 to play in the third, and the Hawks coasted to a win.
“It’s more of a momentum game,” Sanders said. “The last three games we’ve been killing teams. We held them to under 50, so we just have to keep the momentum going. All this game did was make us better.”
River Ridge forced 26 Clover Park turnovers — 17 in the first half — and held the Warriors to six points in the first quarter, and seven in the third.
Davien Harris-Williams was Clover Park’s leading scorer with 11 points. No other Warriors scored in double digits.
“If we have someone on the ball, we have other guys helping,” River Ridge guard Kolton Knox said. “They’re just burping it up, (and we’re) getting fast breaks. … Everything is falling into place.”
Just at the right time, too.
River Ridge travels to meet second-ranked Foss at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Falcons have been projected 2A title contenders since the school reclassified from 3A last year.
Barbee said the game will be a good measuring stick for the Hawks and will match up two of the classification’s most dominant athletes in Skipper-Brown and Boise State commit Roberto Gittens.
The winner of Wednesday’s game will play for the 2A SPSL title on Saturday.
“You’ve still got to earn every game,” Barbee said. “There’s still a lot of basketball, potentially, to be played.
“Obviously being in that upper echelon gives you a chance to get a bye (in the first round of the district tournament), which is what you want. We’re just going to take it one game at a time, and come after Foss on Wednesday.”
“I just feel like it will be a good challenge for us. … I’m pumped,” Knox said.
Lauren Smith: @smithlm12
CP – Harris 6, Harris-Williams 11, McDaniel 6, Jackson 2, Pierce 5, Anderson 2, Kerson 3, Sealey 6, Thompson 3
RR – Cannon 2, Coleman 15, Skipper-Brown 13, Washington 13, Larson 4, Knox 5, Sanders 19, Kennedy 11, Arana 1