ADNA — The 2B No. 3 Adna girls basketball team didn’t just beat the defending Central 2B League champions at home Friday.
The Pirates (13-1, 8-0 C2BL) also cut quite the convincing campaign advertisement for why they should take spot as the premier squad the league has to offer — a role the Mules have held for a few years now — with a 72-28 beatdown that showed off just what makes them so good.
“They’ve been at the pinnacle for four, five years, they’ve been the most stable program,” Adna coach Chris Bannish said. “We’ve always been right there, but we’ve never been able to take over that spot.”
Adna took the first step at last year’s district tournament, besting Wahkiakum by a point in a knock-down, drag-out fight of a third-place game to earn the C2BL’s top seed going into the state tournament. It took the giant leap Friday, firing on all cylinders to blow out the Mules in a game that saw them race out to a 16-0 lead in the first five minutes and never look back.
And boy, do these Pirates have a lot of cylinders that can fire all at once.
“We had two premier scorers last year,” Bannish said. “Now we have four or five that can put it in the bucket, and that’s the difference. When you scout a team, you usually take away two, three people. But when you have five that can put it in the hole, that makes it very, very hard.”
It started, as it usually does, with senior Karlee VonMoos, who put in a 21-point, 16-rebound double-double, with eight of those boards coming on the offensive glass.
Around her, Adna’s shooters did their damage all night. VonMoos’ fellow senior, Brooklyn Loose, scored seven point and filled out her line with eight rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a block.
“They took Brooklyn away the whole time in the first half, and she didn’t get many shots, but the ones she did get, she made,” Bannish said.
And of course, there was the sophomore trio that’s become the talk of the town across the Chehalis River. Danika Hallom came in right behind VonMoos with 18 points and finished a rebound shy of her own double-double with nine boards. Kendall Humphrey had nine points, three assists, and three steals, and Gaby Guard added seven points and five assists.
Friday night, Adna spent a good deal of time implementing each tool on its Swiss Army knife. The offense started with VonMoos down low and a whole lot in transition, which opened things up for Hallom to drive and Guard to hit a 3-pointer. Going into the second quarter up big already, VonMoos went to work with a 6-2 run by herself, which forced the Mules to collapse on her, leaving Loose open for a triple and a long jumper.
“A lot of it is what (the defense) is doing,” Bannish said. “Once Karlee got it going, they had been out on shooters, and then they had to get someone down in there and adjust.”
If the Pirates looked like a well-oiled machine out on the court, it’s because they’ve been running non-stop together for awhile.
As soon as last season ended, those five joined up to play all spring and summer on a travel team. Now, even though three of them are still in their first year playing meaningful varsity minutes, they’re running as smoothly as anybody in this corner of the state.
“We all know where we’re at, at all times,” Hallom said. “Always making that extra pass, which always works out well.”
So far, nobody at the 2B level has been able to stop the Pirates, and they’re lighting up the scoreboard in the process.
VonMoos, Loose, Hallom, and Guard are all averaging over 10 points per game, with VonMoos leading the way at 15.3. All four have cracked 20 points at least once, and like they showed against the Mules, they can get their points in a whole bunch of ways, getting each other open and being a handful to stop all at once.
“Brooklyn and Gabby are good shooters,” Hallom said. “Karlee’s on the boards, Kendall’s on the boards always. And then I just contribute to them and shoot when I can. Everybody helps to make the plays.”
Now the Pirates sit just about at the halfway point of their season, 14 games in, with seven regular season games left, followed by — should they hold on to a top-two spot in the league — three more games at the district tournament, and a possible run at State.
Next up is starting to look like a keystone, where a dominant run can truly take flight. No. 5 Napavine is having similar success and is also unbeaten in C2BL play, and the two rivals will face off against each other Monday in Longview, at Lower Columbia College’s MLK Day Tribute Classic.
That will start the stretch run in truth, with Adna’s balanced core — which started the process of turning into a juggernaut last March, and staked their claim as one in the C2BL on Friday — getting into the games everyone wants to play late in the season.
“These were kids that weren’t basketball junkies when they were young,” Bannish said. “They weren’t. Now we’ve turned these suckers into kids that want it. They want to be a part of that district atmosphere. These younger kids see what districts is like, and they want to be rooted for. Just that atmosphere, and the crowds we get here, is a big deal.”