Tigers top Pirates for first district title since 2011


In the first 12 minutes of the 2B District 4 Championship Game, Adna was giving Napavine everything it could handle. The Pirates were the more energetic team in the early stretch, and a few big shots had them clinging to a slim lead.

From there though, the Tigers quickly kicked it into gear, as they have all season long. They scored the final 14 points of the half to jump-start a 69-41 blowout win for their first district title since 2011.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” Napavine coach Rex Stanley said. “This group has just done nothing but work all year and this is the result of it.”

The win followed the Napavine girls team’s triumph over Rainier, their second in a row, making Napavine the first team to bring home both championships in the same season since Adna did it in 2012.

“It makes it sweeter for the town,” Stanley said. “It’s a great night for Napavine.”

Stanley’s crew took control in the final few minutes of the first half, going on a 14-0 run capped by a long buzzer-beating James Grose three, but they ran away with it in the first few minutes of the second. 

After Braeden Salme hit a three to get the Pirates (18-7) back within 10 at the start of the third quarter, Napavine (22-0) went on a 17-2 run to blow the game open.

Including their run to end the first half, Napavine outscored Adna 31-5 in a span of eight and a half minutes.

“In big games like this, there’s always a feeling-out period,” Stanley said. “We weren’t rotating like we wanted to on the press early in the game. Once we got that figured out, the game started going our way.”

Early on, before the offense got rolling, the defense did what it could to keep the Pirates from getting too much momentum. Adna was still able to hit a few shots, including a pair of threes, that got the crowd rolling, but they couldn’t build on a small early lead.

“Defensively, we are really solid,” Stanley said. “It’s comforting to know coming in that that’s what you’re gonna have every night.”

Grose hit the three at the end of the half, but it was Karsen Denault who helped extend Napavine’s lead in the third.

Over a two-and-a-half minute stretch, Denault scored 11 straight points, including his lone 3-pointer on the night. Denault finished with 22 points, second only to Grose, who scored 27.

They both secured double-doubles, as Denault grabbed 12 rebounds and Grose tallied 10 in addition to seven steals and five assists.

On the other side, while their district tournament run came to a screeching halt, Adna coach Luke Salme couldn’t be more proud of his group.

“I’m so proud of what they've been all year and what they were tonight,” Salme said. “We played our guts out and lost to a team that’s better than us. And a team that it can get away from you in a hurry.”

Salme was held to just 12 points and shot just 5 for 16 from the field, a rate that matched the rest of the team. As a group, the Pirates shot just 31.1 percent from the floor, including a 4 for 24 mark from deep. 

No other Pirate hit double-figures, as Gavan Muller and Trevin Salme were next up with eight points apiece. Lane Johnson scored six and grabbed nine rebounds.

“We played hard the whole time and tried to execute a game plan, and it let us stick around for a while,” Salme said. “Chins are up.”

Both teams are now awaiting their state seeding and regional matchup next weekend, but in the meantime, Stanley noted that he and his players will be sure to savor this one before turning the page.

“These things, you gotta enjoy them, cause they’re hard to get,” Stanley said. "This is about as sweet as it gets.”