Tigers blank Vikings in second half, run away to win


NAPAVINE — You can’t get much lower than zero, and by that logic, you can’t do much better than the Napavine girls basketball team did defensively Thursday evening in the second half of its 58-11 win over Mossyrock to open the season.

The Vikings (0-2) drew a foul with two seconds left in the second quarter and hit one of the two resulting free throws, cutting Napavine’s lead to 25-11 at the break. That would be the last time the guests got the ball through the hoop all night, as the Tigers (1-0) shut them out the entire second half, ending the game on a 32-0 run.

“I thought for three quarters, we did a pretty good job,” Napavine coach Shane Schutz said. “Our defense created our offense.”

The Tigers began with seven shutout minutes from the opening tip, with Mossyrock not getting on the scoreboard until the final 10 seconds of the first quarter. From there, the guests found a bit more, outscoring their hosts 9-8 in the second.

But in the third and fourth, Napavine had all of the answers, thanks in large part to its rotation of 10 players, nine of whom played at least 11 minutes.

“We’re hoping it’s a marathon, and by the last miles, the fourth quarter, we’re the team that’s in a little better shape because of that depth,” Schutz said. “I think tonight we wore them down.”

Napavine forced 30 turnovers, while only allowing Mossyrock to put up 28 shots — only four of which went in. The Tigers turned those takeaways into 32 points.

For the first three quarters, Napavine did it with a suffocating press, getting hands on the ball before Mossyrock could get set up across the timeline. But in the fourth, after Schutz called his defense back to the halfcourt, the Tigers still flew to the ball, coming away with 10 takeaways.

“I think we were communicating a lot better,” Schutz said.

Keira O’Neill led the defensive effort with six steals, and also came down with a team-best 10 rebounds to go along with nine points and three assists.

“She’s a special kid who can play in special places, and I just hope she continues to get better each day and grind to get better, so she can be at the top come February,” Schultz said.

Grace Gall had five steals of her own, while Hayden Kaut had four steals and four blocks in the post.

Kaut led the offense with 13 points, with Jessie McCoy and Taylen Evander both coming in with 10. Evander also led with four assists.

Taylor Schwartz had three points — all from the free-throw line — to lead Mossyrock. Adyson Barrows had six boards and two points.

Napavine will host again on Friday when it welcomes Raymond. Mossyrock will be back in action next Tuesday with another matchup against an old C2BL foe, playing at Onalaska.