Rainier takes rubber match against Adna to clinch state bid


KELSO — One year after falling in the 2B District 4 semifinals, the Rainier Mountaineers were back, once again on the Kelso court and against a familiar league foe.

On Tuesday, the Mountaineers went up against Adna, the C2BL champions that they split their two regular-season meetings against.

While last year’s district tournament run ended with a heartbreaking semifinal loss, this year’s bunch earned a spot in the district championship game and clinched a state tournament berth with a 49-44 win over the Pirates.

“Last year, we learned the hard way,” Eygaborad said. “That can either ruin you or you can build back up from it. We build back stronger every time … You saw what they did. They fought back.”

Just as they’ve had to fight back to this spot all season long, the Mountaineers (22-2, 11-2 C2BL) had to claw back on Tuesday against Adna.

After Rainier took a 19-13 lead early in the second quarter, the Pirates (21-2, 12-1 C2BL) ended the half on a 13-0 run to take a 26-19 lead into the locker room.

After Danika Hallom pushed the Adna lead to 10 with a 3-pointer, however, the Mountaineers went on a run of their own. In less than three minutes, Rainier went on a 10-0 run to tie the game, capped by an Angelica Askey three that forced an Adna timeout.

They then scored eight of the final 10 points of the quarter to take a six-point lead. Adna responded by opening the fourth on an 8-3 run to get within one, but the Rainier defense then went three minutes without a point, and the offense tacked on six more points to stretch the lead back.

“It got choppy at times,” Eygabroad said. “But that second half, we locked down on defense and really just scratched and clawed every single possession … They didn’t let the moment get too big for them. They rose to the occasion.”

Askey finished with a team-high 18 points, but perhaps even more importantly, she was able to limit the C2BL MVP Karsyn Freeman. Freeman scored 22 points, but just six of those came in the second half, and she shot just 32 percent from the floor, including just 13 percent from three.

Those shooting woes extended to the rest of the Pirates, who hit just 19 of 62 field goals, including 4 of 31 3-pointers.

“We didn’t show up,” Adna coach Chris Bannish said. “We didn’t execute anything that we’ve worked on.”

Bannish was frustrated with the way the Pirates seemed to crumble at times, noting that it’s uncharacteristic for a group that’s made deep postseason runs in the past.

“Almost like we kinda lost our composure,” Bannish said. “Iit felt like today, it was almost like a deer in the headlights at times.”

Bannish did take responsibility for the fact that his starting five played the entire 32 minutes without subs, saying that he probably should have gone to his bench at times when his guards were winded.

While disappointed with Tuesday’s outcome, he quickly noted that the Pirates will need to shift gears quickly. While they aren’t in loser-out territory, a loss in their next game would put them in a winner-to-state elimination game.

“The things that we are really good at, we weren’t good at today,” Bannish said. “We just gotta get back to the drawing board tomorrow … We gotta kick back to the other side and be ready to go.”

In addition to her 22 points, Freeman tallied eight rebounds, while Hallom finished with 12 points and five rebounds. Kendall Humphrey grabbed 10 rebounds and scored four, while Bailey Chapman hauled in seven rebounds and scored six points. 

Adna will take on Forks on Thursday at Rochester, and the winner will advance to the third-place game and earn a state bid.

In addition to her 18 points, Askey logged five rebounds, two steals and a block. Bryn Beckman scored 16 points, including four threes, and grabbed nine rebounds. Haleigh Hanson hauled in 15 rebounds and scored six points.

The Mountaineers are looking forward to a rematch with Napavine. The two teams only met once this season in Napavine, and the Tigers took it to them, beating them 58-37 on Jan. 9.

“I’m hoping my girls are hungry as ever to go back at them after they kind of smacked us in the face,” Eygabroad said.

Napavine and Rainier will meet for the district championship on Saturday at 6 p.m. at W.F. West.