Tigers outlast Bears in final seconds to advance to 2B semifinals


SPOKANE — Napavine sophomore guard Taylen Evander picked a great time to pick up her first field goal of the 2B quarterfinals matchup against Brewster on Thursday, Feb. 29.

Her old-fashioned three-point play with 57 seconds remaining gave the Tigers a 48-46 lead, and Napavine’s defense held strong on Brewster’s last attempt to clinch a spot in the 2B semifinals against rival Adna on Friday.

“We’ll take it. That’s what she usually does,” head coach Shane Schutz said of Evander. “That’s why we’re grateful to have her on our team.”

The Tigers, who previously defeated the Bears on Dec. 22 by a score of 58-48, struggled mightily on offense out of the gate. Turnovers were a constant issue, and Napavine was held to seven points in the opening quarter.

Neither team could take care of the basketball throughout the first half, and free throws didn't give either team an advantage. Brewster missed 10 of its 14 first-half foul shots, while Napavine missed four of its 10 attempts. Schutz was proud of how his defense performed in the first half, as the Bears led 16-15 at the break.

“I liked our communication on defense. It’s hard coming back because we’re on our second game and they’re on their first game,” he said. “I was just proud of the kids. We showed a little toughness, which was needed today.”

Despite the low-scoring first half, the offenses wouldn’t stay dormant for long. Fouls and free throws slowed the pace down through the first four minutes of the second half, but each team traded baskets to close out the third. 

Senior Dakota Hamilton delivered a clutch basket to start the fourth, as she followed up a miss with a putback and the harm to give Napavine a 33-30 lead.

Keira O’Neill helped maintain the Tigers’ narrow lead with a pair of field goals before Brewster’s Pepper Boesel tied the game with a tough jumper. Trailing by three, Kara Schertenleib splashed a game-tying three for Brewster with 2 minutes and 23 seconds left.

After a Jessie McCoy missed triple, Boesel gave the Bears a late lead with just under two minutes remaining. O’Neill inched the Tigers one point closer with a free throw before stealing the ball back seconds later. Her swipe gave Evander the chance to drive to the basket and create the 14th and final lead change of the day. After her layup and free throw, Schertenleib’s desperation heave fell short, and the Tigers celebrated their hard-fought victory over Brewster, 48-46.

Napavine advances to the 2B semifinals, where it will face a familiar foe in sixth-seed Adna on Friday, Feb. 29 at 5:30 p.m. The Pirates defeated the Tigers, 54-51, on Jan. 11 at home in their lone meeting this season.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s a huge rivalry and it’ll be a close game. They’re well coached. They beat us last time, and both teams have something to prove,” Schutz said of Adna. “The good news is one of us is gonna be in the title game. It’s gonna be a hell of a game.”