Kalama proved just a little too fast and a little too athletic as the Chinooks turned the game into a track meet and came out on top to deliver Napavine a 57-47 loss in the 2B District 4 championship game Thursday at the NW Sports Hub.
It helped that the Chinooks shot 46 percent from the field, led by junior standout Jackson Esary’s game-high 21 points.
Every time Napavine would rally for a comeback attempt, which there were quite a few of, Esary would knock down a shot or leap for a rebound and stem the momentum.
“Usually we can outphysical people but Kalama is one of the teams in the league that can hold their own against us,” Napavine coach Rex Stanley said.
Napavine junior Keith Olson led the Tigers with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field. Freshman James Grose added 10 points and eight boards, while freshman point guard Cael Stanley chipped in eight points, five rebounds and three assists.
But the Tigers couldn’t hit enough timely shots when it counted, finishing 38% from the field.
Kalama jumped out to a 17-11 lead after one and increased it to 30-16 at the half. It felt like the game might be over by the third quarter.
But the Tigers rallied back, cutting the lead to six at the end of three off Olson’s quick bucket on a dish from Laythan Demarest.
Olson was fouled at the start of the fourth and hit both free throws to cut the margin to four at 38-34, but the Tigers would get no closer.
Esary hit back-to-back shots to bring Kalama’s lead back eight and Napavine couldn’t generate enough offense and get crucial stops on the defensive end down the stretch.
The Tigers’ two seniors, Demarest and Cade Evander, played their final games in a Napavine jersey. Demarest had three points and two assists while Evander added two points, two boards and an assist.
“Thankful we got a season and were able to give Laythan and Cade a senior season,” Stanley said. “They’ve both been a part of varsity for four years and we were so close to winning it. Both had tremendous careers.”
Wahkiakum drained an inside jumper with two seconds left to hand Adna a 61-60 loss in the third- and fourth-place game at districts Thursday at the NW Sports Hub.
The Pirates held a 60-59 advantage for 1:48 of the final 1:50 of the game but couldn’t close out on the final Mules shot to place fourth at districts.
“Losing sucks but that happens in sports and that was our best game of the season,” Adna coach Luke Salme said. “And that’s coming against who, I would say coming into this year, was a state favorite. A lot of experienced guys and a very difficult team to defend.
“The fact that this group traded punches with that team for 32 minutes; that’s everything a coach wants.
It was an impressive performance and season for a Pirates team that went 8-2 overall with just two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and five freshmen.
Salme said he’s grateful for the leadership the two seniors, Tyler Minkoff and Zach Berg, provided for this young team.
“Just the toughness stamp that they put on this team is going to pay dividends going forward,” Salme said. “For not knowing if we’re going to have a season, and knowing we don’t have hardly anyone with playing experience back, to go 8-2 and be as good as we were, I’m a pretty happy guy. The only thing I’m sad about is it’s over.”