Tigers shut down Mountaineers to win second-straight district title


All season long, Napavine, Rainier, and Adna jostled for position atop the C2BL standings. While the Pirates came away with the league title, it was the Tigers and Mountaineers left standing in the 2B District 4 Tournament.

Both defenses excelled throughout in the district title game on Saturday, but it was Napavine that found enough answers to come away with a 46-39 win to win their second-straight district title.

“I told them I thought we were the best team in the county,” Napavine coach Shane Schutz said.
“I thought we were the best team on the west side. I just told them that and they kept grinding all season. We were successful tonight.”

It often wasn’t pretty on Saturday night, as the Tigers had to slug through a poor first half in which they scored just 16 points. Defensively, Napavine (21-2) did just as well as Rainier (2203), however, limiting the Mountaineers to just 18.

Hayden Kaut took over immediately to start the third, however, as she scored nine points in a Napavine 10-0 run that gave the Tigers an eight-point lead. Kaut went on to finish with a game-high 19 points while shooting 8 for 12 from the field.

“That’s what makes her one of the top elite players in the league,” Schutz said. “She’s a gamer. She puts a lot of time in, and we needed her to do that tonight. The kids fed off that, it gave them some confidence.”

In the second half, as a team, the Tigers shot 65 percent from the floor, more than doubling their mark from the first half. It was enough to hold off a Rainier squad that got as close as five points in the fourth quarter, but didn’t have enough to complete the comeback.

Keira O’Neill finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks, while Dakota Hamilton added six points and six assists and Taylen Evander scored eight points and tallied three assists.

“You’re not gonna shoot good every night, but you’re gonna have to defend,” Schutz said. “We hit some shots tonight, but that’s what we hang our hat on. I thought the kids did a great job tonight.”

Shots just weren’t falling for the Mountaineers on their end, as they shot just 33 percent from the floor, including an 8 for 26 mark in the second half.

While they finished one win shy of their first district championship in over a decade, Rainier coach Brandon Eygabroad said that there’s a lot to be proud of heading into the state tournament.

“We came out and competed every night, and went through some good teams to get here,,” Eygabroad said. “They’re definitely feeling it, but we’ve got to bounce back … There’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves.”

Angelica Askey scored 14 points to lead the Mountaineers, and Brooklynn Swenson was close behind with 13. Askey also led the team with six rebounds, and Bryn Beckman added three points and three steals.

At 23-2, the Tigers will likely be one of the top seeds in the upcoming state tournament. While Schutz acknowledged that starting tomorrow, everyone is zero and zero again, he’ll be sure to celebrate while he has the chance.

“We live for these moments,” Schutz said. “It’s hard to win back-to-back. We take this with real sincerity. This is awesome, and we’re gonna enjoy it tonight.”