The Best Games I’ve Seen in Person (So Far)
By Matt Baide
Isn’t it great that football season is back?
That’s not the point of this column, but I wanted to mention it.
I’ve been working at The Chronicle for about a year and seven months now, and seen a great number of games in my time here.
On Saturday, I attended the Napavine-Kalama football game, and I said this hot take on Twitter: “The Kalama-Napavine game was the most entertaining and best game I’ve seen in person since I started working at The Chronicle.”
I stand by this statement today, and decided to rank the best games I’ve seen in my time at The Chronicle so far. Please note, these are only games I have seen in person, start to finish.
So, if there is a game you saw me at which was an incredible game, chances are I left early or you saw someone else with a huge nose.
With that being said, here’s my list:
Adna vs. Crosspoint, Girls Soccer State Quarterfinals, Nov. 10, 2016
This game was on my 27th birthday, which makes it terrible since I don’t recognize birthday’s anymore (I refuse to acknowledge I’m in my late 20’s now, and I don’t want to talk about it). I traveled up to Silverdale Stadium for this game between Adna and a team I had never heard of until Adna faced them in this game.
From the start of the game, you could tell these were two evenly matched teams, going back and forth to start. Devanie Kleemeyer eventually did her thing and got a goal for the Pirates to put them ahead 1-0 in the first half. But Crosspoint eventually tied the game, and it looked like Adna might lose the game with the Crosspoint momentum with the Pirates’ players dropping like flies and having to be tended to on the sidelines with injuries.
But Adna continued to battle and the game eventually went into a shootout, with the Pirates winning and advancing to the state semifinals.
What made the game standout to me was the Pirates continuing to battle, even when players went down. The team sang happy birthday to me after the game, and then I learned the lesson: Don’t tell people it’s your birthday (The date at the top is a placeholder).
Centralia vs. Tumwater, Boys Basketball, Feb. 16, 2017
This was a game that I wanted to leave at halftime. Tumwater was the favorite to win this game, and they certainly looked like they would cruise to the win in the first half. But as the second half went along, it was like Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, where everyone was thinking: “Could they comeback? No way” to “They’re close to completing the comeback, but I could see them falling short.” to “What a comeback, did they just win the state title?”
Trailing by 19 at halftime, Centralia mounted a huge comeback in the second half, highlighted by Hodges “Never Seen a Shot I Didn’t Like” Bailey. The Tigers kept chipping away at the lead, and Bailey, along with contributions from Layne Pertzborn, Tyler Ashmore and Jordan Thomas among others, put together a solid display of team basketball. It was culminated in a great Steph Curry clutch moment when Bailey, at the top of the three-point arch, in the defender’s face, just pulls up and knocks it down for a 4-point cushion.
For the record, I was hoping to get a photo of Bailey doing the Jordan shrug, but he never did. Please do that in college Hodges, for all of us.
Mossyrock vs. Kalama, 2B State Volleyball Championship Game, Nov. 13, 2016
I drove to the Palm Springs of Washington on the Saturday morning before the semifinal games were set to begin. I arrived at the Sundome just as Napavine was playing in the state semifinals. Napavine placed fourth, while Mossyrock won their semifinal match to punch their ticket to the state title game.
I have been to the Sundome once before to cover a state volleyball final, when I worked for the Lake Chelan Mirror, I covered the 2013 state championship match between Chelan and Cascade (Leavenworth), a four set thriller that was my first true volleyball experience besides when I was in high school and our team was good (I didn’t go to school for two days, thank you state championship volleyball team 2007).
These two teams had met before and played some close matches so I expected the match to be a good one. Mossyrock came out and won the first set, but Kalama came out and took the next two sets, and I thought it might be over in the fourth.
But Mossyrock battled to take the fourth set and force a fifth set.
At this point, all the other matches in the dome were over, and the focus was solely on this match. After every point, there were big cheers and not necessarily from those particular school fan bases.
The fifth set was really close, with Mossyrock holding a 3-point lead, but then Kalama came back and the match was tied at 13. Kalama scored the next two points and won the title, but Mossyrock played a phenomenal game. The match could have easily gone the other way, and I hope to see Mossyrock back there again this November.
Adna vs. Toutle Lake, 2B State Softball Championship Game, May 28, 2016
This was the first championship game I covered for The Chronicle, and I got a good one.
I was only the photographer for this one, as the late Lars Steier wrote the story (I say late in reference to The Chronicle, I’m sure he’s still alive). Also, Lars, if you happen to read this, please start up your food blog again.
It was the game everyone wanted to see in the state title game, and it did not disappoint. Adna was down 7-0, but rallied back to take the lead.
But with the game tied in the bottom of the seventh, Toutle Lake won in walk-off fashion. Adna played a great game and had no reason to be disappointed with their performance.
I’ve seen a lot of softball in my short time at The Chronicle, but that was certainly the most entertaining softball game I’ve ever seen since I got here.
W.F. West vs. Black Hills, State 3rd Place Game, March 4, 2017
In terms of my favorite sports to play, it varies throughout the year, usually based on the season between hockey, golf and basketball. With the severe lack of hockey in this area, I’ve ramped up my playing interest more in basketball and golf since I moved over here. I miss the days of And 1 Streetball (google it please) with The Professor and Hot Sauce.
The Bearcats had this monkey on their back throughout the season, known as the Black Hills Wolves. For some reason, in their first three games, there was just something that went wrong here or there which helped Black Hills win the first three meetings.
But the fourth meeting was in the state playoffs, although it wasn’t in the title game as everyone predicted. It still mattered because there were rivalry feelings between the two teams throughout the season.
Black Hills led 17-4 early in the game, but W.F. West inched their way back into the game and trailed by only eight at halftime.
The Bearcat defense only allowed three points in the fourth quarter to help the comeback, and Julia Johnson made the go-ahead layup with less than 10 seconds and the last second shot from Black Hills didn’t fall.
There’s nothing better than a story of a team finally overcoming an opponent that has had their number in all the other meetings. But when you win in the biggest game of them all, it makes all those losses a little bit easier to handle.
Napavine vs. Kalama, 2B Football, Sept. 9, 2017
I said this game was the best game I’ve seen for a few reasons. In football, I’m all for defensive battles. I know in sports, scoring lots of points means entertaining (usually). But there is something to be said about two great defenses trading shots, taking the ball away from two good offenses and making it a game of “Which defense will give up points first?” rather than a game of “Which defense will make a stop first?”
There are few games that have as much hype around them as No. 1 vs. No. 2 in football, whether that’s in college or pro. And high school was no different, I wanted to see these two good teams have a battle, and not have one team just blowout the other team, and that is exactly what we got.
The weather was not great, especially during the first half when it was a mist rain that turned into a downpour for about a quarter. The elements playing a factor in the game, whether it’s teams playing in the snow or rain, makes the game more intense because team’s have to deal with something other than the people lining up across from them.
The best part of the game was the way the two offenses, in the words of Aaron VanTuyl, “Shooters gonna shoot.” Both offenses just could not seem to figure out how to beat the opposing defense. Dawson Stanley didn’t have a good day at quarterback, but I’ve got to hand it to him, he kept throwing. Even after two interceptions, he kept putting the ball in the air and found Jordan Purvis to tie the game. And the two point conversion looked like something Russell Wilson would do with a late pitch to Cole Van Wyck to tie the game with a 2-point conversion.
And while I know I’m talking a lot about Napavine, a lot of credit is due to Kalama, especially since they won the game. The Chinooks are the real deal and will be playing into late November.
I think we can all agree this is a game we would like to see again in the state tournament. But I’m sure Toledo, Adna, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley and Onalaska, to name a few, will have something to say about that.