In an early season game between good basketball teams, the small stuff adds up.
The River Ridge Hawks won the hustle plays, got the important rebounds, made more free throws and came away with a hard-won 76-71 victory over White River in Class 2A South Puget Sound League play in the River Ridge gym in Lacey.
“Our athleticism and speed made a difference down the stretch,” River Ridge coach John Barbee said. “In the first half, it was the complete opposite, I thought.”
River Ridge (5-1 overall, 3-0 2A SPSL) trailed after the first quarter, and didn’t take its first lead until the third. In the fourth quarter, senior Isaiah Scott hit two early triples as the Hawks ran out to a 65-56 lead, then held off the determined Hornets.
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“We didn’t do any of the little things,” White River coach Rick Tripp said. “We didn’t make enough plays, for sure.”
Senior forward LaBrandon Price, who led all scorers with 25 points, gave River Ridge its first lead of the game at 28-26 on a basket after a blocked shot by 6-foor-4 junior Jordan Skipper-Brown on the other end. The Hawks led 38-32 at halftime.
The Hornets scored the first eight points of the third quarter, split evenly between Alex Wallen and Cameron Cawley, to go up 40-32, and White River led again at 47-42 on two Wallen free throws before Scott and Price led a 9-2 River Ridge push to give the Hawks a 51-49 lead.
Skipper-Brown (six points, nine rebounds) came up big in two key sequences in the final period. First he secured an offensive rebound, passed the ball out and then got it back on a feed from Kobe Key for a powerful dunk to give the Hawks a nine-point lead.
Next, Skipper-Brown skied high for another offensive rebound, then assisted teammate Mac Armstrong for an easy basket that earned a 72-62 lead.
Ryan Larsen (16 points) was a cool head for White River in the late going, in one sequence scoring a basket after a steal and feed by Cawley. Later, after his own steal, he hit a triple to get the Hornets within 74-69.
Wallen led White River (4-2, 2-1) with 21 points. Tyler Meadows added 15 points and Cawley had 10.
Price filled the stat sheet with six rebounds and four assists. Scott finished with 12 points, and Key and Jaden White scored 11 points apiece.