River Ridge coach John Barbee says Thayer Murphy benefits greatly from having a short-term memory.
So when Murphy’s sloppy pass was stolen late in the game, the senior guard spend little time dwelling on it.
He simply rushed down the court, swooped in and swatted away Dustin France’s layup — which originally looked as if it would be uncontested.
Murphy scored a game-high 22 points, but it was his late defensive heroics with 30 seconds to play that propelled the Hawks to a thrilling 66-61 victory over visiting White River in 2A South Puget Sound League play on Friday.
“I wasn’t sure he was going to get there,” said Barbee of Murphy’s block, “but that’s Thayer. He makes a horrible pass then goes right out and makes up for it. Huge play for us.”
Leading 62-61, River Ridge looked to milk the final half-minute, but a lackluster pass by Murphy was tipped away by France, setting up a potential bucket that would reclaim the lead for the Hornets.
Murphy made sure that wouldn’t be the case, knocking the ball away as France went up for his layup and avoiding the foul.
“Redeem myself,” Murphy said. “That’s all I was thinking. I made a bad pass and had to make up for it.”
Murphy did, and the Hawks (12-4 overall, 8-2 league) went 5 for 6 from the line the rest of the way to extend their winning streak to seven games, placing them in excellent position for a league title with four games remaining.
“We’ve always wanted to control our destiny,” Barbee said. “This win allows that to happen. Everything is within our control now.”
The Hawks entered the contest trailing Washington by a game for first place in the league standings.
The two teams meet in Parkland on Jan. 30 in a contest which will go a long way in crowning the SPSL 2A champion.
Jason Kananin added 18 points for River Ridge, which also received nine points from Mac Armstrong and eight from LaBrandon Price.
Leading 38-34 at the break, the Hawks came out sluggish in the second half, falling victim to a 14-2 run by the Hornets that Brandon Scheer capped with a 3-pointer, pushing White River’s lead to 48-40 with four minutes to play in the third quarter.
“We had no energy in the third quarter,” Murphy said. “We just came out flat, but we kept our composure. Our coaches told us not to panic and go out there and play our game. We all trust our coaches.”
Murphy followed up a field goal by Armstrong with a 3, kick-starting a 9-0 run for the Hawks that gave them the lead for good with just under three minutes to play.
“The kids went out and executed in the fourth,” Barbee said. “They just don’t get rattled. I think I’m the only one on our team that gets worked up when we’re playing, but they don’t.”
Alex Wallen scored 16 points for White River (6-10, 6-4) and Scheer added 15 points.
Amanda Lance paced a balanced White River (14-2 overall,10-0 league) attack with 19 points.
Leading 33-24 at the half and 46-38 after three quarters, the Hornets opened the fourth with two 3-pointers from Lance to push the advantage to double digits, which River Ridge (9-7, 7-3) was only able to cut to an eight-point deficit during the final minute of play.
It marks the second 20-point performance for Schultz against White River this season, as the junior guard also scored 20 points in River Ridge’s 74-45 loss to the Hornets on Dec. 16.