When North Thurston High School’s undefeated boys basketball season was spoiled in a loss at Peninsula last week, the fifth-ranked Rams scored just 48 points.
Thursday night in Lacey, they had that many points five minutes into the second quarter, and rolled to a 96-63 win over visiting Hudson’s Bay in the first round of the 3A West Central/Southwest bistrict tournament.
North Thurston (20-1) moves on to meet Spanaway Lake (16-5) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Puyallup High School. A No. 3 seed, the Sentinels defeated Evergreen of Vancouver, 89-68, Thursday night.
Jeremy Spencer, 3A South Sound Conference MVP, led the Rams with 35 points Thursday.
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Clay Christian, North Thurston’s all-time leading scorer with 1,434 points, added 20 as the pair and seven other Rams seniors played the final home game of their careers.
“It’s pretty sad playing my last game on this court after being here my whole career, but at least we got the (win),” Spencer said, adding that the loss to Peninsula was a wake-up call for the Rams.
“Losing our last game wasn’t we wanted, we did want to go undefeated, but coming into the playoffs as a No. 1 seed we knew we had to get it back going.”
The Rams did just that, scoring the first seven points and prompting the Eagles to take a timeout when the second of seven 3-point baskets by Spencer gave North Thurston a 12-2 lead early.
“We were running well in transition,” Spencer said. “Gunner (Nielsen) got me the ball for some open looks.”
The lead grew to 17-4 as the Rams’ trapping half-court defense produced turnover after turnover.
But Hudson’s Bay battled back to briefly cut the edge to nine points, 33-24, early in the second quarter, prompting Rams coach Tim Brown to call a timeout of his own.
“Our kids came out pretty focused and got off to a great start, but we had our lackadaisical moments where we let them hang around,” he said.
The Rams coaches devoted that early timeout to reinforcing the need to rebound and play defense.
“They hurt us on the offensive boards early. We weren’t getting our best defensive effort,” Brown said. “For a while there, we either got a layup or they hit a 3. We got some good steals from the trap, but we didn’t rotate back out of it.”
The conversation worked. The Rams scored the next 11 points — nine of them by Spencer — and Hudson’s Bay (10-10) never truly threatened again.
The final score was North Thurston’s largest lead, as LaDarius Cuyler came off the bench to score six points in the final moments. Tim Tenkley joined Spencer and Christian in double figures with 12.
Eli Hoover led Hudson’s Bay with 16, while Eric Ryapolov added 14 before fouling out.
Brown liked his team’s bounce back from the disappointing regular-season finale.
“We lost to a pretty good team in Peninsula,” he said. “But our goal wasn’t to go undefeated. Our goal was to win the league and get the No. 1 seed. Spanaway Lake has three pretty good players, but if we play well, we can play with anybody.”
At Capital 66, Lakes 58: Despite losing leading scorer Chris Penner (foot) for the season, the Cougars handled Lakes in the first round in Olympia.
Grant Erickson scored a game-high 23 points for Capital, while Luke Layton poured in 21.
“Luke really carried us in the first half, and Grant really carried us in the second half,” Capital coach Brian Vandiver said.
And the Cougars’ defense was sturdy throughout, out-rebounding the Lancers, 41-21.
“We really controlled the glass tonight,” Vandiver said. “That was probably the biggest statistic of the night.”
Capital (16-5) meets Lincoln (21-0) in the quarterfinals at noon Saturday at Puyallup.
At No. 2 Lincoln 79, Shelton 48: The Highclimbers didn’t have an answer for the 3A Pierce County League champions, who extended their undefeated streak in Tacoma.
The second-ranked Abes carried an 11-point lead into halftime, and continued to pull away, cruising to a first-round win.
Emmett Linton scored a game-high 17 points for Lincoln, while Willie Thomas and Mykel Campbell scored 10 apiece.
Ty Thompson and Jason Kenyon each had 10 points to lead Shelton.
The Highclimbers (8-13) meet Lakes (8-13) in a loser-out game at noon Saturday at Rogers.
4A WEST CENTRAL/SOUTHWEST GIRLS
At No. 9 Todd Beamer 58, Olympia 41: Makenzie Bond, Beamer’s 6-foot-1 standout, scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Titans to a first-round win in Federal Way.
The Bears were within striking distance entering the break, trailing 31-24, but were limited to five points in the third quarter as Beamer pulled away.
Chasity Spady chipped in 13 points for the Titans, Aaliyah Alexander added 12.
Emily Church led Olympia with 14 points, and Averie Stock had 11.
Olympia (12-10) plays 4A SPSL rival Curtis (13-8) in a loser-out game at noon Saturday at Wilson. The Bears and Vikings split during regular-season play.
3A WEST CENTRAL/SOUTHWEST BOYS
L – Miller 14, Chance 9, Wayne, McCray 2, Lancelin 13
C – Layton 21, Landers 7, Stock 7, Walker 4, Collard 4, Erickson 23
NO. 5 NORTH THURSTON
HB – Morse 9, Gibson 6, Teague 2, Hoover 16, Buslach, Campbell, Ryapolov 14, Ross, Cadiz 7, Weiss 9
NT – Spencer 35, Nielsen 2, Maxfield, Davis, Stone 8, Harn, Thomas, Wallace 9, Tenkley 12, Cuyler 6, Christian 20, Ponder 4
NO. 2 LINCOLN
S – Freeman 2, Auld 3, Colbenson 3, Thompson 10, Benson 9, Kenyon 10, Badillo-Brown 8, Jonker 3
L – Linton 17, Dillingham 6, Bonds 11, Thomas 10, Yearby 4, Braggs 6, Archibald 3, Babbs 7, Campbell 10, Simon 5
4A WEST CENTRAL/SOUTHWEST GIRLS
NO. 9 TODD BEAMER
O – Asomaning 2, Stock 11, McBride 5, Terry 2, Glock 7, Church 14
TB – Forks 5, Alexander 12, Spady 13, Parks 5, Bond 23