Prep boys basketball: Defensive effort in OT lifts Adna to Class 2B Round of 12


The standard for Adna High School’s boys basketball team is to find a way to make the trek to Spokane every year for the Class 2B state tournament.

It needed four minutes of defensive greatness for a fifth time in six years, minus the COVID-19 season, of playing at least one more game.

Ignited by forcing five missed shots, three turnovers and just four points from Braeden Salme, the 10th-seeded Pirates staved off 15th-seeded La Conner for a thrilling 66-62 overtime triumph on Saturday night at W.F. West High School.

“It is what we’ve been working for all year,” Salme said. “We’ve battled some adversity this year. The hard work is paying off.”

Adna (19-7) was sent into jubilation once the buzzer sounded. All it needed offensively was the eventual go-ahead layup from its top scorer and two free throws with 9.4 seconds left to ice the victory.

The Pirates will face seventh-seeded Saint George’s on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in a Round of 12 contest inside the Spokane Arena.

“It is what we expect,” Adna head coach Luke Salme said. “It is a state regional game, everyone you’re going to play can beat you any night. We weathered the storm and found a way somehow. It wasn’t pretty.”

It was the ultimate game of resistance. For significant stretches of the final eight minutes in regulation, Adna seemed to be in full control. It was up by six points twice sandwiched between a seven-point cushion.

La Conner never went away.

Corran Eisen nailed two 3-pointers, Ivory Damien swished a trifecta from the corner off an offensive rebound with 1:11 left and Brayden Pedroza canned a transition shot from beyond the arc to tie the game at 62.

“We knew we wanted it more,” Braeden Salme said. “It was an ugly game for us.”

The Braves got what appeared to be the last shot, inbounding the ball with 20 seconds remaining. Yet Adna, in favor of the possession arrow, forced a jump ball and had four seconds for a game-winning look.

It had two chances, but neither dropped.

“We knew we had to grind defensively (in overtime),” senior Jens Neilson said.

Coach Salme called the effort on the defensive end, particularly in the extra stanza, “phenomenal.” Despite giving up a couple offensive boards in the final four minutes, the Pirates never gave off an easy shot.

Still, they got a wake up call from the Braves.

“They shot it at a pretty high clip tonight,” Coach Salme said.

After watching La Conner on film play zone, Adna’s players were perplexed to see its opponent come out in man-to-man defense. Neilson stated it took about five minutes for the offense to adjust.

The Pirates grabbed hold of the lead on a 12-0 outburst that started with a Trevin Salme triple and ended with a Braeden Salme 3-pointer. The two brothers had a hand in an 8-2 spree in the third to give them an 11-point lead.

Braeden Salme ended the night with a game-high 27 points while Neilson registered 19 points and a team-best eight rebounds. Lane Johnson added six caroms.

“I love him and I’m really proud of him,” Coach Salme said of Neilson. “He works consistently harder than anyone I’ve ever coached. Hard work, works. He was huge for us on both ends today.”

With another February trip to Spokane in the books, Adna doesn’t plan on taking things for granted. It has aspirations to be in a placement game of some kind, but it will need to win one more elimination game for that to happen.

This group, with three of its five seniors in the starting lineup, plans on making memories for one more week.

“We may be the underdogs, but we’re very confident,” Neilson stated.