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2B Girls BB: Olson, Lee Lead Tigers Back to Spokane

Napavine’s Mollie Olson brings the ball upcourt against Adna on Saturday during a 2B girls regional basketball game at W.F. West High School.

RIVALS: Mollie Olson Scores 26 as Napavine Beats Adna 55-42 in Regionals

By Aaron VanTuyl

avantuyl@chronline.com

It was exactly the game the Tigers wanted.

Winner to state, loser out, a few miles from home, and Adna on the other bench. The same Adna team that had beaten Napavine three times this year, most recently just nine days prior, by 32, in a meaningless District 4 consolation game.

And this time, from start to finish, Mollie Olson and Melissa Lee kept Napavine in the driver’s seat.

Olson scored 26 points and thwarted the Pirates at nearly every turn, and Lee added 16 as the Tigers eliminated their Central 2B League rivals Saturday in Chehalis to return to the State 2B tournament.

Napavine’s approach, according to Olson, was to let the pressure sit on their opponents.

“They’ve beat us three times, and everyone thinks they should beat us again,” she said. “We basically just thought, like, have fun; we’re not losing anything with this game. Just give it our all and see what happens.”

Images from Napavine’s 55-42 Regional 2B Basketball Playoff win over Adna on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.

What happened was the third straight trip to Spokane for juniors Olson and Lee, despite being the only two starters — and, for that matter, varsity regulars — back from last year’s state runner-up squad. The duo were both All-Central 2B League first-team picks this year, but also handled the vast majority of the scoring and toughest defensive assignments throughout the Tigers’ 12-8 regular season.

That was the basis of a pregame speech from Napavine coach Jeremy Landram before the all-important regional matchup.

“If we’re going to have a chance to win any games from this point going forward, it’s going to be on the shoulders of Mollie and Melissa,” Landram said. “We’ve never really done that before, and it’s kind of do-or-die right now, and those two players are just phenomenal people.”

It’s nothing new for Olson and Lee, even if it hadn’t been explicitly stated before.

“It’s fun,” Olson said, of the season-long game plans geared at slowing the duo down, “knowing that you have to come out good every game.”

They didn’t waste any time on Saturday. Olson scored Napavine’s first bucket 2 minutes in to tie the game at 2-2, and the Tigers never trailed again. The junior point guard scored 9 straight points late in the first to give Napavine a 17-6 lead.

Adna, naturally, fought back. A 3-pointer from Devanie Kleemeyer and 5 quick points from Lili Glover comprised an 8-0 run that brought the Pirates within 2, and after a Lee bucket Kleemeyer struck against from long range to make it a 1-point game.

Triples from Becca Snaza and Lucy Sevilla, though, gave the Tigers a big boost, and Napavine was up 4 at the break. Snaza is the only other Tiger with any varsity experience; Sevilla is a junior first-time player who wound up in the staring lineup.

That inexperience — the Tiger roster features six freshmen, only two of whom had played basketball prior to this winter — originally had Olson thinking her team was in for a rebuilding year.

“They’ve improved so much,” Olson added. “It’s crazy.”

One of those freshmen, Halee Williams, came up big early in the fourth. Another 3 from Kleemeyer had cut the Tigers’ lead back to 4 points; Williams, on the next possession, dribbled in from the block and sank a jumper that sent the Tiger bench into hysterics.

Olson followed it up with a leaner in the lane, and scored again a minute later to make it 50-40 with 3:19 to go. Adna turned it over, and a minute later Lee finished inside and swatted away a Pirate layup on the other end. It may as well have been the exclamation point in a hard-fought rivalry game.

Landram called it his team’s most impressive outing of the year.

“They wanted to lose playing their best game,” Landram said. “And if we would have lost today, playing our best game of the year, we wouldn’t have been happy — but it would have been a little easier to swallow, knowing that they performed their best in the biggest game of the year.”

Lee finished with 10 rebounds, along with a pair of blocked shots, and Napavine held a 32-22 rebounding advantage in the win. The Tigers also shot 46 percent from the floor to counteract 26 turnovers, while Adna turned the ball over 22 times and went 12 of 46 (26 percent) from the field — including going 8 of 25 (32 percent) from long range.

Snaza added 8 points for the Tigers.

Napavine (16-10) will play Davenport on Wednesday in a loser-out first round game at the Spokane Arena. The winner moves on to the double-elimination portion of the State 2B tournament, with a 5:30 p.m. game against Colfax on Thursday.

The Pirates finished the season with a 23-5 record, and will graduate seniors Glover, Kleemeyer, Elwood, Salesha Hammer, and Kenya Lorton. Adna finished third in the Central 2B League and the No. 10 team in the WIAA’s RPI rankings, and took fourth at the District 4 tournament.

The Pirates had beaten Napavine 58-48 back on Dec. 7, and 52-48 on Jan. 24 in Napavine, before drubbing the Tigers 56-24 on Feb. 16 in the District 4 consolation semifinals.
At Chehalis

TIGERS 55, PIRATES 42

Napavine 17 12 13 13 —55

Adna          8 17 12 5 —42

Napavine (55) — Sevilla 3, Snaza 8, Olson 26, Lee 16, Williams 2

FG: 21 of 46 —.456 FT: 8 of 12 —.667 Reb. 32 (Olson 11, Lee 10)

Adna (42) — Glover 8, Lorton 5, Humphrey 6, Aselton 3, Kleemeyer 14, Elwood 6

FG: 12 of 46 —.261 FT: 11 of 13 —.846 Reb. 22 (Elwood 10)

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