Pirates Scratch and Claw to OT Win


Thirty-two minutes couldn’t separate the Adna and Rainier boys basketball teams, but a couple of clutch shots and a whole lot of free throws helped the Pirates to a 61-53 overtime win on the road Thursday.

“We struggled to shoot the ball again,” Adna coach Luke Salme said. “But heck, we will take every Central 2B League win we can get, especially on the road.”

With the game tied at 47-47 after four quarters of action in Rainier, the night was extended to the extra period. Braeden Salme hit a pair of field goals, including a 3-pointer for the Pirates, but the rest of the guests’ offense down the stretch came from the charity stripe. Adna went 9 for 14 on free throws in overtime, with Eli Smith going 7 for 10 by himself.

Smith finished with a team-high 21 points, while Braeden Salme had 19 and Lane Johnson had 12. As a group, the Pirates shot an even 25 percent from beyond the arc, making eight of their 32 shots from long range.

Rainier’s offense, meanwhile, flowed through one man, as sophomore Josh Meldrum went off for a game-high 31 points. His brothers Jake and Jimmy had nine and five points, respectively, while the rest of the Mountaineers combined for eight.

“Nothing was easy tonight,” Luke Salme said. “Kudos to Coach Sheaffer and his guys. They just kept fighting and making big plays. Josh hit so many tough shots.”

Adna led 11-9 after a low-scoring first quarter, but Rainier found its rhythm first, with 11 Josh Meldrum points in the second quarter leading the Mountaineers to a 24-19 halftime lead. Adna worked its way back in front in the third, before the hosts evened things up going into the end of regulation.

“We were really pleased with the grit that we showed against a highly regarded, well-coached team,” Rainier coach Ben Sheaffer said. “Our energy and the way we flew around tonight is something we can definitely build upon. To have a chance late and to take that team to OT help our young team recognize what our identity needs to be.   At the end of the day, I think their experience showed itself late in the game.”

Adna (4-0, 2-0 C2BL) will face Toutle Lake at home on Tuesday, and Rainier (2-1, 1-1 C2BL) will play Napavine.