Everyone knew there would be pressure.
W.F. West High School drove up Interstate-5 knowing its girls basketball game at Black Hills on Tuesday night would decide the 2A Evergreen Conference lead at the halfway point of league play and would influence the Class 2A state rankings.
For Black Hills there was something else: No player or coach with the seventh-ranked Wolves had ever beaten the Bearcats, currently ranked eighth.
When Black Hills built a 50-38 lead late in the third quarter, they seemed a good bet to break the streak. But with W.F. West guard Shasta Lofgren continuing to hurt the Wolves from inside and out on her way to a game-high 29 points and Black Hills missing eight consecutive free throws it took a calm performance from Wolves sophomore guard Lindsey Nurmi in the final three minutes to ice a 63-61 victory.
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Black Hills grabbed the 12-point lead when freshman Maisy Williams scored inside and went to the line for a potential three-point play. Her missed free throw was the first of eight in a row by the Wolves.
Nurmi, who along with teammate Emma Duff, scored a team-high 20 points for Black Hills.
After W.F. West took the first of three fourth-quarter leads on a pair of foul shots by Julia Johnson, 56-54, at the three-minute mark, Nurmi made the first two of six consecutive free throws to tie it. With 36 seconds to play and the Bearcats again leading, 61-60, she made her final pair, giving Black Hills the lead for good.
“I was nervous,” Nurmi admitted. “But I play AAU with a lot of the W.F. West girls and had an extra reason to want to beat them. If I make them or miss, I know my teammates will have my back.”
The game was hard-fought throughout with 27 fouls called on the Bearcats (11-4, 2-1 2A) and 16 whistled against the Wolves (13-2, 3-0).
“There were a lot of fouls called,” said Black Hills coach Tanya Greenfield. “But it was a very physical game, both teams were playing hard ... I don’t think they could have called it any other way.”
Though the Wolves led by seven after the first quarter and by 11 at halftime, Greenfield knew her team was aware of the moment.
“Our girls knew what the game meant. We’ve never done this before, never beaten W.F. West,” she said. “It was a good look at where we stand at this point in the season.”
It was the first time W.F. West lost an EvCo game since Jan. 3, 2012 against River Ridge, according to the Centralia Chronicle.
WF West; 13; 16; 16; 16; —; 61;
Black Hills; 20; 20; 12 ;11; —;63;
WFW – Lofgren 29, Strasser 6, Johnson 7, Hanson 2, Steen 4, Brumfield 5, Davidson 2, Bennett 0, S. Haakenson 0.
BH – Nurmi 20, Moloney 9, Duff 20, Reichert 3, LaBelle 6, Williams 5, Patti 0, Payne 0.