RAINIER — It rarely ever looks pretty in games with the stakes present Friday night in Thurston County, but a win is a win, and the 2B No. 5 Napavine girls basketball team used two big runs in the first and third quarters to take home a marquee victory over No. 4 Rainier, 39-30.
The Tigers’ various press looks frustrated the Mountaineers’ typically even-keeled guards all night, forcing 19 turnovers and holding Rainier to 26.1% shooting from the field.
The Mountaineers failed to score until seven and a half minutes into the first quarter, and produced just four points in the third quarter, making it an uphill battle all night against a more steady Tiger offensive attack.
“You have to have something you’re going to hang your hat on,” Tigers coach Shane Schutz said. “Because you’re not going to shoot well every night. Our defense has to be our staple. When you’re coming to play Napavine, we’re going to defend you.”
And the key all night was limiting easy looks from Rainier leading scorers Brooklynn Swenson and Angelica Askey, per Schutz.
“Taylen (Evander), Avery (Schutz) and Morgan (Hamilton) did an incredible job on them,” Shane Schutz said. “They’re two incredible athletes and they had to earn every point.”
Askey managed 16 points, but with five of those points coming from the line, and Swenson was held off the scoreboard until late in the fourth, scoring four points.
On the other end, the Tigers did just enough to win on offense, building up double-digit leads in the first and third quarters to hold on to the win. Hayden Kaut led the scoring effort for most of the night, including a banked-in 3-pointer just a few steps past halfcourt to end the third frame, scoring 13 points.
Hamilton scored a team-high 14 points, and Keira O’Neill had five monster blocks inside.
The Tigers shot just 25.9% from the floor, but scored 13 points off Rainier turnovers and dominated inside with 20 points in the paint.
More importantly, every time Rainier found a rhythm, they squelched any hope of a deeper run to seal the win.
“They’ve had their way with us for several years,” Schutz said of Rainier. “I thought the kids battled tonight. For us, we know this is just the first step. We still have a huge mountain to climb, but games like this build confidence and we need confidence.
We’ve gotten beaten down by Rainier, Adna, Wahkiakum over the years, our kids are tired of it. They want the respect that those teams have and they’re out to earn it. It’s not going to come easy.”
On the other end, the Mountaineers — still without a few pieces, including forward Bryn Beckman — just dug themselves into too many holes to climb out of.
Askey scored over 50% of Rainier’s points, and all night the Mountaineers had a hard time getting into any kind of rhythm.
“We just have to play consistently,” Rainier coach Brandon Eygabroad said. “Our defense was great at times but then we’d have mental lapses. It’s a good time to look in the mirror and reflect. We show that we can do it, but we have to do it for 32 minutes.”
The Tigers (13-2, 8-0 C2BL) will head to the MLK Classic at Lower Columbia Community College in Longview on Monday to take on rival and also unbeaten in league play, Adna, for a huge showdown. The Mountaineers (12-2, 6-2 C2BL) will hope to find some answers in Toutle Lake on Tuesday for another league game.