RAINIER — It was anyone’s game at the start of the fourth quarter, as the Rainier girls basketball team and Adna traded blows throughout the first three quarters Thursday night.
But when push came to shove, the Mountaineers went to one of their seniors down the stretch, and Selena Niemi delivered.
The reserve guard splashed home two threes at the start of the fourth quarter to push Rainier’s lead to nine, and then created a turnover on defense and dished to Bryn Beckman to put the nail in the Pirates’ coffin Thursday in a 41-33 Mountaineer win.
“Selena has that ability, she can come in and hit shots,” longtime Rainier assistant coach Pete Zimmerman, who was subbing in for an unavailable Brandon Eygabroad, said. “There’s no question she was the difference.”
The Mountaineers (9-3, 4-1 C2BL) got nine points from Niemi in the second half, all threes, and 12 points from the freshman Beckman to get past Adna and pick up their league-leading fourth win.
But it didn’t come without its challenges. It was a slugfest in the first half, with the teams tied at 14 points after single-digit quarters to start the game. The message for Rainier at the half, per Zimmerman, was to limit their mistakes in the second half.
“We needed to quit making dumb passes,” he said. “We had to be more fundamental, we had to come out and shorten the passes and do a better job of taking care of the ball. All of that seemed to work out.”
While the Mountaineers found their stride in the second half, the Pirates (7-6, 2-2 C2BL) just never got in a rhythm. Starting guard Kaylin Todd was held off the scoresheet, and Brooklyn Loose was the lone player to score in double figures with a game-high 13 points.
Though it was still an early league game, the win meant a lot to a young Mountaineer team that starts three freshmen to go along with a few seniors. After not keeping up with the Pirates last spring, a win to open 2022 felt good.
“Adna’s beat the tar out of this team before,” Zimmerman said. “They’ve had our number, this win sure didn’t hurt.”
The Mountaineers will look to keep it going on the road against Toledo, while Adna looks to get revenge against Winlock at home on Tuesday.