For the first few minutes of a key game against the Tumwater Thunderbirds, the Aberdeen Bobcats looked to be in a position to upset the T-Birds and move into a tie for second place in the 2A Evergreen League.
Then reality set in.
Tumwater’s hot shooting and pressure defense led to a big halftime lead as the T-Birds handed the Cats a 65-32 loss on Friday in Aberdeen.
The Bobcats (11-4 overall, 6-3 2A Evergreen) trailed the Thunderbirds (13-4, 8-1) by one game for the second spot in the 2A Evergreen League entering the game.
Aberdeen jumped out to an early 5-0 lead on a pair of free throws by junior guard Annie Troeh followed by a corner three from senior guard Maddie Gore in the first minute of the game.
The Cats would lead 8-4 after junior guard Zoe Troeh scored off a bounce pass from Gore at the 5:25 mark of the first quarter, but that would be the last time Aberdeen would hold a lead.
Tumwater went on an 11-0 run as the Cats struggled to move the ball against the T-Birds full-court press defense. Tumwater took the lead at 9-8 on a breakaway layup by senior Kylie Waltermeyer halfway through the first period and led 15-8 on a Regan Brewer jump shot two minutes later.
After scoring eight points in the first three minutes of the game, Aberdeen managed one field goal — a short runner by Annie Troeh at the 1:50 mark — over the remainder of the first quarter to trail 22-10 after eight minutes of play.
“We haven’t had a lot of pressure on us the whole season. Everyone really respects Maddie (Gore), they were just locked into everyone and not just Maddie, making it hard for Maddie to get the ball to people,” Aberdeen head coach Rachel Wenzel said. “We were just making mistakes like throwing it off our feet. Our passing was the worst it has been all season. It happens.”
Aberdeen never got closer than 10 points after that as the Bobcats ball-control woes continued in the second quarter.
The Bobcats committed five turnovers over the first three minutes of the frame and Tumwater took advantage by extending the lead to 31-14 halfway through the quarter.
Tumwater would go up by 20 at 34-14 when sophomore Sydney Sumrok splashed in a three with 3:40 to go in the first half.
Brewer followed with a three of her own 40 seconds later before Aberdeen senior Marina Marll hit a long jumper to stop the bleeding and cut the lead to 37-16 with 2:16 left in the half.
After a 20-foot jumper from T-Birds senior guard Hadley Woods put Tumwater up 39-16 with 1:39 left, junior forward Kendall Gjurasic scored from the low post at the buzzer to extend the halftime lead to 41-16.
The third quarter was much of the same for Aberdeen as eight turnovers in the quarter led to a 52-23 deficit entering the fourth quarter, allowing Tumwater to rest its starters in the final period.
“I watched so much film on them and I thought our zone defense would be effective, but we needed someone on each person when they are shooting so well,” Wenzel said. “That’s on me. We’ll probably have another shot at them at districts. I’m proud we kept our chins up the whole time and never gave up. It just wasn’t our night and that happens.”
Waltermeyer (15 points), Brewer (14) and Gjurasic (11) each scored in double figures for Tumwater, which had 10 players score in the game.
Aberdeen was led by Gore with nine points.
Zoe Troeh, Annie Troeh, Mija Hood, Olivia Lamont and Jaylynn Phimmasone scored four points apiece for the Bobcats.
With the loss, Aberdeen falls two games behind Tumwater for second place in the 2A Evergreen League.
“I think I got them hyped a little too much about this game,” Wenzel said of the rarefied air of being in a league game late in the season with second place on the line. “We haven’t been in this situation before. I love it and am excited for the rest of the season. … I still think we can get out of districts if we play like we have in the past. … The pressure is new to us, we will live and learn.”
The Bobcats host Rochester at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.