ADNA — No, the 2B No. 5 Napavine boys basketball team isn’t going to be cutting down nets over a league championship.
Though the Tigers clinched the Central 2B League title Thursday night in a dominant, 71-41, win over their rival Adna, they know exactly what awaits them next week in the 2B District 4 tournament.
“When we started the year winning the league championship wasn’t brought up once,” Napavine coach Rex Stanley said. “It’s a nice feather in our cap, but at the end of the day, midnight tonight, everybody is 0-0 and we start over. It doesn’t matter if you’re first or seventh, everyone is back at square one.”
Napavine clinched the title after dropping just one game in league play, and did so in style on the road in Adna, led by another dominant scoring performance from James Grose, who capped his regular season with a 40-piece on the Pirates.
It’s the juniors fourth 40-point game of the season, and brings his regular season total to 552 points, good for 27.6 points per game.
“If James isn’t the Player of the Year in this league, I would be stunned,” Stanley said. “Cause he has flat-out brought it every single night.”
Grose made eight 3-pointers, including six in the second half to erase any hope of an Adna comeback after the Tigers rode out to a big lead in the first half thanks to Karsen Denault’s near double-double at the halftime break.
Denault hauled in offensive rebounds with relative ease, with 12 points and nine rebounds at the half, helping Napavine to a 36-15 lead. The sophomore finished with 19 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for the Tigers by game’s end.
Things tensed up a bit in the third quarter, when the Pirates went on a 9-0 run to start the frame and trimmed the deficit to 14 in the blink of an eye, but was quickly squashed by a more resilient Napavine team.
The Tigers outscored the Pirates, 35-17, the rest of the way after Adna’s quick burst.
“I wouldn’t even say we let them get back into it,” Stanley said. “They have a lot of firepower. That team, they can put up some points in a hurry, it takes a full 32 and we put that together tonight.”
It sounded a whole lot different for the home team Thursday night, who celebrated senior night in front of a packed house, but didn’t have much to celebrate following the 30-point loss.
Braeden Salme led the Pirates with 15 points, and Eli Smith chipped in 13, but a frequently out-hustled and out-played Pirates team couldn’t string together enough consistent play to keep up with the league champs at home.
The loss drops the Pirates to the fifth-seed in the Central 2B, and a first round district matchup against Raymond in Montesano on Saturday.
“Our goal is to play those guys again in five days,” Adna coach Luke Salme said. “Turn around, prepare tomorrow, get a win on Saturday and play them again. But we would have to compete for 32 minutes like we did for five tonight to have a chance against them. They’re good.”
Adna honored four seniors Thursday night, who played on their home court for the final time as Pirates: Seth Meister, Asher Guerrero, Clayton Loose, and Jacob Stajduhar.
Salme says he’ll miss all of them when the Pirates’ season comes to a close.
“They’re great human beings,” he said. “It does put things in perspective, I would like to feel a heck of a lot better right now, but those are four guys that are going to win for the rest of their lives. It’s not the way we wanted to send them off, but it does put things in perspective. As much as we want to beat those guys, they‘re going to be okay and they’re going to do great things.”