Pirates take fifth place at state after loss to Cougars


SPOKANE — Despite the season ending in two straight defeats, Adna girls basketball head coach Chris Bannish is proud of his team for finishing in the top five at the 2B state tournament on Saturday. The fifth-place trophy is the highest the Pirates have earned since they took third in 2012.

“It feels good. I’ve got a good group of kids here. I’m not disappointed. I’m very proud of this locker room,” Bannish said.

The sixth-seeded Pirates couldn’t hang on to a fourth-quarter lead against second-seeded Warden, falling 74-68 thanks to seven second-half three-pointers from the Cougars.

Before the tipoff against Warden, the Pirates were still putting Friday’s 57-33 loss to Napavine behind them. As the Cougars opened up a 10-2 lead in the first three minutes, Bannish burned a quick timeout to regroup his team. 

“I kind of had that feeling like yesterday, like are we really gonna go out this way or are we gonna gut it up?” he said.

Following the timeout, Adna’s offense, led by Central 2B League MVP Karsyn Freeman, found life. She scored seven points in the first quarter after mustering up just three points in Adna’s loss to Napavine on Friday, and she helped the Pirates tie the game entering the second quarter.

“It could have gone both ways. That told me a lot about who they are right there,” Bannish said of his team’s quick comeback.

The Pirates took their first lead early in the second quarter with Freeman’s second triple of the game, and they remained in front through the first half, leading 32-30 at the break. Freeman dropped seven more in the second quarter.

The Cougars knocked down just one 3-pointer in the first half, but on a snowy day outside in Spokane, the forecast in Spokane Arena called for a flurry of triples. Warden’s Angelina Buck drilled back-to-back triples to start the third, but the Cougars still had trouble erasing the deficit.

After Adna took a 42-36 lead with 4 minutes and 30 seconds left, the Cougars countered with an 11-3 run to pull in front. They led 51-47 heading into the final quarter. The 3-point barrage continued in the fourth quarter, as Warden nailed three more triples to open up a 10-point lead.

The Pirates struggled to make shots in the final three minutes, and Warden prevailed, 74-68, to take home the third-place trophy. Freeman finished with 31 points, while Danika Hallom added 18. The Cougars outscored the Pirates 44-36 in the second half, knocking down seven of their eight triples in the half. They shot a blistering 57.1% from the field in the second half.

“We can score the ball on most nights, but defensively, we’ve got to flip the script a little bit,” Bannish said. “We were a pretty good defensive team all year, but I felt like we weren’t near as good over the last couple of days.”

Bannish added that he was proud of how Freeman, who finished with 31 points on Saturday, improved over the course of the season despite adjusting to multiple positions.

“We didn’t get to play with her until Nov. 12. We didn’t have her in the summer, so she had to become a dual-guard and learn the system. If she and Danika play like they did today, we’re gonna be pretty tough.”

The Pirates finish the season with a 25-4 record and graduate only one senior in Margarite Humphrey. Bannish has high expectations for his team heading into next season, one that will have stiff competition in the C2BL.

“I’ve got a team that is going to be hungry for next year. There’s a lot of young teams like Napavine, Rainier and Colfax who get a lot back,” he said. “We’re gonna have to do the little things: the boxing out, the rebounding, the defensive portion to win these close games like this.”