ON TO REGIONALS: Adna’s claims first regional berth in three years with 46-33 win over Rainier
By Eric Trent
ROCHESTER — Adna coach Chris Bannish had heard the old cliche, ‘You never beat a good team three times.’ Him and his Pirates put the saying to rest Thursday night against Rainier.
Instead, Adna put the clamps down on Rainier and the Pirates toppled the Mountaineers for the third time this season, this time a 46-33 victory in the District 4 consolation semifinals Thursday, to earn a regional berth for the first time in three years.
This is the fifth time in Bannish’s eight years at the helm that his Pirates have advanced to regionals.
All week in practice the Pirates embraced the 1995 Seattle Mariners slogan ‘Refuse to Lose.’
“They weren’t even born then,” Bannish said of his players. “That [Mariners] team was tougher. And the tougher team won.”
Bannish said they weren’t the tougher team in a 42-26 loss to Ilwaco in the district quarterfinals on Feb. 12. But the Pirates regained their grit against Rainier on Wednesday.
A loss would have sent the Pirates into a loser-out, winner-to-regionals match on Saturday. Instead, they earn an automatic bid to regionals and play for third/fourth at district against Central 2B foe Toledo at 1 p.m., Saturday, at W.F. West High School.
The regional bid is a big deal for Adna’s three senior Payton Aselton, Tyas Pannette and Makaela Meister. Aselton was a freshman on varsity the last time the Pirates made regionals three years ago. And after losing out last year they went right back to work.
“We didn’t stop practicing until the state tournament was over,” Bannish said. “I told them, ‘If you guys want to be good in this tournament next year, we’re not losing like last year.’ These sophomores bought in.”
Against Rainier, rebounding and defense is what carried the Pirates to victory. Adna held Rainier to four points in the first and five in a crucial fourth-quarter after Mountaineers’ star Kaeley Schultz' offensive outburst cut the Pirates lead from 15 to nine. Shultz finished with a game-high 19.
“I thought here we go,” Bannish said. “But she’s that type of player. Everything has to go through her. I thought we did a pretty good job of taking that away.”
Payton Aselton led the charge on the other end of the floor for Adna, dropping in a team-high 18 points to go with eight rebounds and three steals. Faith Wellander pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds, while Makaela Meister and Kaylin Todd each dropped in eight points.
Freshman Karlee VonMoos provided big minutes off the bench, tallying nine points, seven rebounds and three steals.
The Pirates went away from their usual plan of attack by going double-big with Meister and VonMoos in the paint. It paid off. Adna outrebounded Rainier 39-27.
“We had to rebound underneath in that triangle,” Bannish said. “I thought they did an excellent job. That’s the most those two have played together all year. They made it hard for me to take them out. I had to leave that group on the floor and we found a way to get it done.
Adna (21-4) now takes on C2BL champ Toledo (21-3) for third/fourth place on Saturday. The Pirates are ranked fourth and Toledo sixth in WIAA’s RPI system that’s used for regional and state seeding. A loss for Adna would still likely keep the Pirates in the top-8. A win would guarantee it.
Rainier (18-6) will face Ilwaco for the fifth and final spot into regionals at 1 p.m., Saturday, at Rochester High School.