Lummi came into the game having already defeated Tulalip Heritage earlier this season in Bellingham and a second victory would all but guarantee the Blackhawks the regular-season league championship.
The Hawks made sure there was no premature celebration with a 64-49 win over the Blackhawks at Heritage School.
"I told the kids that if we get away with this win it changes the whole momentum (of the league) because we will go up and play tough like we did (before)," Tulalip Heritage head coach Marlin Fryberg said. "They know it now. It brings a different mentality to athletes after a loss just like it did when they beat us."
In the first meeting on Lummi's home court, the Hawks held a 14-point halftime and the Blackhawks needed a comeback to win. On Tulalip Heritage's home floor, the Blackhawks didn't have another come-from-behind win in them.
"That loss up there, that's my fault," Fryberg said. "I slowed the game down and I should have just kept running. That was something that I tried. Their shots fell and ours didn't. I learn as a coach just as the kids learn as players. It didn't happen again tonight. It got to a point where the coaches look at each other and said, 'It's not happening again.'"
With a full gym of mostly Tulalip Heritage fans, the Hawks rode momentum to an early 9-2 lead. The Blackhawks settled quickly and answered with a 7-0 run to tie the game. Lummi led 17-16 after the first quarter and extended its lead to as many as six in the second quarter, settling for a 26-23 lead at halftime.
"We didn't play very well," Fryberg said. "We didn't box out, poor shot selection and shots weren't going in. We went into the locker room and it weighed on them because they knew how important this game was. So we calmed them down and told them, "OK, we've got two quarters to go yet. We have to rebound and you're shots are going to fall.'"
Fryberg was right.
Tulalip Heritage outscored Lummi 20-9 in the third quarter to take control of the game. The Hawks took their first lead since the first quarter midway through the third when Ayrik Miranda's three from nearly 10 feet beyond the 3-point line gave them a 35-34 advantage.
The Hawks never trailed again.
"He didn't have a very good first half at all," Fryberg said of Miranda. "He mentally didn't show up to the game, so I got his attention on the bench and I looked him right in the eye and I said, "I need you. I need you and me right now to connect because this is basketball and you've got to play basketball for me.' He came out huge in the second half. He hit those 3-pointers and it changed the momentum.
"That kid can shoot that deep. If he's focused he'll nail them. Once he hit that one I knew it was going to be good and now I had him, he was focused. He was back in the game with me."
Miranda wasn't the only one. Seemingly every Hawks player chipped in in the second half as they outscored the Blackhawks 41-23.
The Hawks' leading scorer, Keanu Hamilton, scored 20 points including nine in the fourth quarter to help thwart any ideas Lummi had of a comeback.
But his biggest contribution may have been on defense.
"Keanu Hamilton is just a flat out good athlete," Fryberg said. "What I focused him on was staying on his feet (on defense). The kid likes to jump up and get cool swats and whatnot. I made him stay on his feet and once he did that he contained the kid in front of him so we have backside help."
Shawn Sanchey helped Hamilton carry the scoring load, finishing with 18 points, including seven in the third quarter.
"It's a big game for him because he went to the line in Lummi and unfortunately didn't hit the foul shots," Fryberg said. "I'm sure as an individual player he carries that, which he shouldn't because it happens. But he had something to prove tonight and he came out and played basketball for us. He showed up real big from the get go."
The Hawks travel to Lummi for the third and final installment of the rivalry between the two tribal schools on February 4 in a game that likely will decide the league champion."
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Tulalip Heritage H.S.
Lummi 17 9 9 14 — 49
Tulalip Heritage 16 7 20 21 — 64
Lummi—Dean Williams 7, Charlie Wilson 4, Leo Scarborough 3, Logan Toby 10, Austin Brockie 3, Willie Jones 3, Trazil Lane 10, Kavarez Lane 9, Deion Hoskins 0. Tulalip Heritage—Keanu Hamilton 20, Bradley Fryberg 5, Brandon Jones 2, Shawn Sanchey 18, Payton Comenote 4, Dontae Jones 0, Ayrik Miranda 6, Robert Miles 9. 3-point goals—Williams 1, Brockie 1, K. Lane 1, Miles 1, Sanchey 3, Hamilton 1, Miranda 2, Fryberg 1. Records—Lummi 5-1 league, 9-2 overall. Tulalip Heritage 6-1, 13-1.
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