Napavine overcame Wahkiakum’s red-hot shooting with a dominating post game and came away with a hard-fought 70-61 victory in the 2B District 4 semifinals Wednesday at the NW Sports Hub.
The victory sends the Napavine into a district title matchup with Kalama at 7 p.m. Thursday, and will be the Tigers’ first district title appearance since 2011.
“I’m thrilled for the kids,” Napavine coach Rex Stanley said. “With everything that’s been going on this year, to be able to play in a district tournament, when we didn’t even think we’d be able to play a game, we’re ecstatic.”
The Tigers played well throughout, but were countered by Wahkiakum’s scorching shooting as the Mules hit seven 3-pointers in the first half to lead the Tigers 35-32 at the break.
“They shoot the ball really well,” Stanley said of Wahkiakum. “The first time we played them they only hit three 3s. In the first half (today), we gave them seven. A lot of them were coming off offensive-rebound kickouts.”
But Napavine’s physicality and post presence proved to be too much as the Tigers finished with 36 points in the paint to just 16 by Wahkiakum.
Junior post Keith Olson led the charge down low with a double double of 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds to go with three blocks.
While Olson and Cade Evander were dominating down low, freshman James Grose kept the Tigers in rhythm offensively, scoring a team-high 21 points on an electric 5-of-9 shooting from long range.
“James was able to get going,” Stanley said. “He’s the one guy we have who is just really efficient offensively. When he’s going, we’re going.”
Freshman Cael Stanley added 12 points and eight assists and Gavin Parker had right points off the bench.
Napavine faces Kalama for the district title at 7 p.m., Thursday, at the NW Sports Hub.
Adna fell behind early and struggled to keep pace with a tough, physical and fast Kalama team in a 50-33 loss in the district semifinals Wednesday.
The Pirates trailed by six points in each of the first two quarters before the Chinooks pulled ahead for good in the second half, building a 14-point lead heading into the fourth to secure the victory over Adna.
“I think defensively our effort was good enough; should have been good enough to win,” Adna coach Luke Salme said. “They ended with 50, and I think in district tournaments, the first team to 50 is usually going to win.
“Offensively, coach will wear that one. We tried lots of different things but we never felt comfortable and confident in anything. That’s on me.”
Junior Chase Collins led the Pirates with a game-high 17 points, which included five 3-pointers. Freshman Eli Smith added seven points.
Kalama was led by Jackson Esary’s 13 points.
“That’s a physical group,” Salme said. “Their physicality obviously bothered us. We did not have the ball in the paint very many times at all. That’s going to make it tough.”
Adna gets one last shot at ending the season on a high note when it faces Wahkiakum for third and fourth place at 7 p.m., Thursday, at the NW Sports Hub.
“I just said, ‘We better be pumped we get to go play one more game,’” Salme said. “We get a chance to end the season on a win, so we want to go do that for our seniors tomorrow.”