Napavine opens state tournament with dominant win over Tonasket


SPOKANE — The last time the Napavine Tigers walked off the court was following an upset loss to No. 8 Mabton in the opening round of the state tournament. The Tigers were still through to Spokane, but they had to sit on that defeat until the Round of 12 on Wednesday.

In their Round of 12 matchup against Tonasket, the Tigers immediately put that loss behind them, racing out to a 20-point lead and cruising to a 69-38 win.

“We knew it was a one-game season,” Napavine coach Shane Schutz. “I thought we responded really, really well to that. They just came out on fire and were ready to go.”

It was all Napavine from the jump, as the Tigers scored the first seven points of the game before Tonasket responded with a three to get on the board.

It was nearly a full quarter before Tonasket scored again, as Napavine went on a 22-0 run to push its lead to 29-3.

“We always talk about the importance of mental preparation,” Schutz said. “We were mentally ready to go today.”

Napavine continued to build on its lead throughout the rest of the game. At one point, the Tigers led by as many as 38.

Hayden Kaut and Keira O’Neill both came out firing early and often, and they kept it up through all four quarters. They combined for 51 points while shooting 20 for 27 from the floor. 

Kaut scored 26, hit four 3-pointers and added five rebounds and four assists, while O’Neill shot 73 percent from the field and added six rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.

“They were just willing to do anything to win,” Schutz said of the duo. “They made things happen today. And that’s what good players do.”

Dakota Hamilton scored 12 points, hauled in six boards and tallied six assists, while Jessie McCoy scored four points and grabbed seven rebounds. Taylen Evander didn’t record a basket, but she led the team with seven assists.

As a team, the Tigers shot 59.6 percent from the floor, including a 77.8 percent mark in the first half.

Next up for Napavine is a familiar foe, as the Tigers will go up against No. 7 Brewster in the quarterfinals on Thursday. In December, Napavine topped the Bears 58-48.

Schutz noted that Brewster has improved since that meeting, and it is one of the top eight teams “that can beat anybody.” 

“That’s a good basketball team that we took care of today,” Schutz said. “Now we gotta enjoy the victory for about an hour, and then we gotta get ready to prepare for Brewster.”