Pirates take down Tigers, keep C2BL title race wide open


ADNA — There were two possibilities for what could come out of Thursday’s matchup between Adna and Napavine.

Either the Tigers could win their fourth straight over their rivals from just up the road, stay perfect in Central 2B League play, and put a chokehold on the league title race, with four of their five remaining games coming against the bottom three teams in the standings. Or the Pirates could come out on top, and throw the top of the C2BL into three more weeks of high-stakes chaos going down the stretch.

Fans got the one the will raise the proverbial ratings, with the Pirates jumping out to an early lead behind a long-range barrage and holding on for a massive 54-51 win.

“This is State-caliber basketball, it’s a State-caliber crowd,” Adna coach Chris Bannish said. “We need more of these, we don’t get these enough.”

The win puts Adna atop the C2BL table with an 8-1 league record, a half game ahead of Napavine and Rainier, both of whom are 7-1. The Tigers just beat the Mountaineers handily on Tuesday. Rainier beat Adna back in December, but the Mountaineers and Pirates will play again up in Thurston County next Tuesday in another massive clash. 

That game — and the rest to follow — will take place with all three contenders having to keep an eye on the out-of-town scoreboards, because Adna made sure Napavine couldn’t run away with things for a second straight year.

The Tigers (14-2, 7-1 C2BL) never led, with the Pirates (14-1, 8-1 C2BL) going ahead for good less than four minutes into the first quarter and quickly building a lead up to as many as 13 points on the back of five 3-pointers.

On the other side of things, Adna found the kryptonite to Napavine’s high-intensity full-court press — the Pirates didn’t let their guests score and set the press up in the first place.

“That’s the best defensive Adna team we’ve seen in quite a long time,” Napavine coach Shane Schutz said.

Adna cooled off significantly after halftime, hitting just one triple in the second half after going 8 for 15 from beyond the arc in the first. It was a loud one, though. With a shade under six minutes left in the fourth, Karsyn Freeman got the ball at the top of the key and took one step to her right before crossing back to her left, sending her defender coasting on her keister all the way to the free throw line, before calmly stepping back to can a 3-pointer as the Adna crowd lost its collective mind, the Pirates’ lead back up to 11.

Freeman finished with 18 points to lead the Pirates, and also had seven rebounds and a team-high eight assists.

“She draws so much attention,” Bannish said. “But she’s such a natural scorer, she knows how to (score) the ball and she’s not always looking to feed… If she gets that, the sky’s the limit.”

Danika Hallom added 13 points and two steals, and while she only had one official assist, she was the one who took on the challenge of breaking Napavine’s press when the Tigers did finally get it up and running, and passed the test with flying colors.

“That was the game we needed (from her),” Bannish said. “I thought that was her coming out party for this year. I thought she really played well, and took care of the ball.”

Adna finished with just 10 turnovers as a team, and Napavine could come away with five points from them. The Tigers managed just 11 points in transition, with the Pirates dictating the pace of play for just about the entire night. 

“They exposed some of the things that we’ve been harping that we’re going to get beat on if we don’t fix, and it happened tonight,” Schutz said.

Napavine’s Hayden Kaut led all scorers with 21 points, and also had seven boards and three assists. Keira O’Neill posted 13 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double.

The Tigers finally found a run in the final five minutes, with O’Neill and Kaut combining to go on a 9-0 run to cut a 12-point gap down to just three and force Bannish to take a timeout. But out of the break, Freeman found Bailey Chapman wide open under the basket for an easy bucket to curb the momentum, and the Pirates did just enough on defense and at the free-throw line to seal it.

“We could have folded right there, like, ‘Here they come, we’ve seen this before,’” Bannish said. “And they didn’t. That was big.”

Just about the whole night was big for Adna. 

And because of it, we have a true race to the finish line in the Central 2B League coming up.