ADNA — After a tough loss to No. 9 Napavine earlier this week, the Adna boys basketball team sure looked like a team coming off a bad loss early against visiting Morton-White Pass Friday night.
The Timberwolves landed blow after blow in the first quarter, uppercut after jab, and went up 12-2 in the first three minutes, beating the Pirates at their own game.
Then, the Pirates settled in, hit some shots from deep, and played some of their best defense of the season in a 66-56 win over the T-Wolves at home.
“After the first quarter, I thought we played three great quarters,” Pirates coach Luke Salme said. “We wore some punches in the first quarter. I looked up and was like, ‘Holy cow, here we go. Let’s see what we can do.’
“I wondered how we would respond. Now we’re ready for districts, that’s what you have to be able to do.
After getting outscored, 23-12 in the opening frame, Adna changed up its defense, and forced MWP into turnovers, and the road team had a hard time adjusting.
The T-Wolves held on to a slim halftime lead, 34-29, but early in the third turned it over on multiple possessions, capped by a huge Chase Collins shot from deep that brought the crowd to its feet and gave the Pirates a two-point lead.
After a quick MWP timeout, the Timberwolves turned it over again and Adna capitalized again on a Braeden Salme trey.
Salme led the Pirates with a game-high 20 points, but perhaps the biggest difference was Lane Johnson and his 19 points. Johnson also measured up to the task of guarding MWP’s goliath big man, Josh Salguero, who finished with a team-high 18 points for the T-Wolves.
“He’s a game changer with that size and ability to come out and shoot,” Luke Salme said of Johnson. “He impacts both ends for sure.”
Though Adna had all the momentum, it took some late heroics from Eli Smith to send the last punch on a 3-pointer that gave the Pirates an 8-point lead with just a minute left, lifting the air out of the Timberwolves sails.
The T-Wolves managed just 11 points in the final three quarters after scoring 23 in the first.
“These kids compete their asses off defensively and are undersized, but we fight,” Luke Salme said. “Being able to do some things offensively will always give us a chance if we fight defensively.”
Adna shot 46.2% from the field and made eight 3-pointers in the win, to MWP’s 38.1% shooting percentage and just two made 3-point shots.
The Pirates, now in sole possession of third in the Central 2B League, head to Wahkiakum on Tuesday, while Morton-White Pass plays host to Napavine on Wednesday.