The Yelm boys basketball team entered the final week of their regular season needing to win both games against Central Kitsap and River Ridge if they had any hopes of the postseason.
With the rest of their season on the line, the Tornados answered with two consecutive wins, punching their ticket to districts in the process.
Their first matchup of the week was on Tuesday, Jan. 31, against Central Kitsap High School. After a long drive to the Cougars’ home gym, Yelm’s offense exploded as the Tornados scored a season high 78 points in a 78-62 victory against the Cougars.
On Thursday, Feb. 2, the Tornados traveled to River Ridge High School for their final regular season game of the year.
River Ridge was quick to hit an early three-pointer, but it was all Yelm from that point on. While both teams struggled offensively in the first half, Yelm capitalized on early trips to the freethrow line to take an early lead.
In the second half, Yelm cruised to a 67-34 victory over the River Ridge Hawks, who finished the season 0-20.
Junior Damien Williams-Butler led the team in scoring with 14 points.
The Tornados concluded their regular season with an overall record of 7-11 and a conference record of 6-8, earning them the fifth and final South Sound Conference playoff berth. Following their win against River Ridge, the Tornados will play Kelso on Friday at 6 p.m. on the road.
Following the win over River Ridge, senior Trevontay Smith, who averaged nearly 24 points per game this season, told the Nisqually Valley News that it “felt great” to defeat Central Kitsap and River Ridge to secure a spot in the district playoffs.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to play at districts again this year and we just know that we have to put in some work this week to be ready,” Smith said. “We’ll continue to fight through each game, one game at a time, and believe that we can compete against every team we play.”
Some of Yelm’s key wins for the 2022-2023 season include the 63-62 win against Capital on Dec. 16, a 63-60 victory against Central Kitsap on Jan. 6, and the 59-56 victory over Peninsula on Jan. 20.
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