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Tuesday’s 2B GBB: Tigers Carve Up Wahkiakum

Napavine’s Mollie Olson lays the ball up against Wahkiakum on Tuesday in Napavine.

SHOWDOWN: Olson, Lee Combine for 44 as Napavine Dominates Matchup of Top Two C2BL Teams

By Aaron VanTuyl

avantuyl@chronline.com

NAPAVINE — The Tigers really hadn’t faced a significant challenge in Washington this season. They won their first nine Central 2B League games by, on average, right around 40 points.

Tuesday’s home matchup with Wahkiakum, also perfect through nine C2BL games, was supposed to change all that.

It did not.

Mollie Olson and Melissa Lee put on their usual one-two punch of a show and Napavine looked every bit as good as advertised in a 71-30 win to take sole possession of first place in the league standings.

That’s not to say Napavine’s ready to crown themselves champions of anything or planning on coasting through the rest of the regular season.

“The girls are excited, but they’re not ecstatic,” Tiger coach Jeremy Landram said, “which is a real good sign, because there’s some things we need to do better.”

Most of those things, however, only showed up after halftime. With Mule point guard Macie Elliott on the bench with three fouls late in the first frame, the Tigers started the second quarter with a 12-0 run and finished it with an 11-0 run to lead 42-16 at halftime.

A big part of that was the Olson-to-Lee connection. Three times in the second quarter Olson, playing in the paint in the Tigers’ 2-3 zone defense, grabbed a rebound, took a few short dribbles and threw a half-court or longer pass to Lee for an in-stride layup.

“It’s awesome, because I just have to run to the free throw line and then I just go right back to under the basket,” Olson, the Tigers’ 5-foot-9 senior point guard, said. “I just chuck it, and she’s pretty good at catching them, even if they’re terrible.”

Lee, also a senior guard, finished with 25 points and eight rebounds, while Olson scored 19 with 11 rebounds and six assists.

“That’s just normal,” Landram pointed out, of his two senior stars’ stat lines. “We shot it pretty well tonight, but I got on Melissa a little bit; she could have been more aggressive. And Mollie had a lot of turnovers when they got a little fatigued.”

That’s where Landram’s ‘areas of improvement’ showed up. With a league schedule full of blowouts, the Tigers’ only close games this year were over Christmas break, when they went 3-1 to finish second at Ayala High School’s Best of the West Tournament in Los Angeles.

“We haven’t played four quarters, except for California, all year, and it showed with a lot of mental mistakes in the second half,” Landram said. “There’s just a lot of focus points when you’re playing in a big game and the adrenaline’s going, and you have to control your body and control your mind, and we’ve got to get better at that.

“The tools are there to be good, but we’ve still got a little road ahead of us.”

At the moment, handling that road without relying entirely on cruise control is a point of focus.

“We just play every one like it’s going to be tough,” Olson said. “We have things we need to work on, and so we work on them. We just work on the things we need to work on to get ready for everything.”

Becca Snaza added 13 points for Napavine, which shot 27 of 64 from the field and went 10 of 16 in the pivotal second quarter. The Tigers also held a 42-23 advantage on the glass, and held Wahkiakum to 19 percent (9 of 48) from the field and just 3 of 23 from long range.

“We caught Wahkiakum on a bad night, and they didn’t play their best basketball,” said Landram, noting that Elliott’s absence in the second quarter put the Mules in a tough spot. “She’s a competitor, and whenever you have to move people over even one position it changes the entire outcome of the game.”

Ellie Leitz led Wahkiakum with 8 points and five rebounds.

Napavine (13-1, 10-0 league) plays at Mossyrock (11-2, 8-2 league) on Thursday. The Vikings lost to Wahkiakum, 57-45, back on Dec. 18.

At Napavine

TIGERS 71, MULES 30

Wahkiakum 12  4 10  4 —30

Napavine    17 25 13 16 —71

Wahkiakum (30) — Fluckinger, Ashe 3, P. Mace 8, M. Mace, Elliott 7, Merz 3, Leitz 8, A. Watkins 1

FG: 9 of 48 —.188 FT: 8 of 14 —.571 Reb. 23 (Merz, Leitz 5)

Napavine (71) — Sevilla 3, Underhill 2, Olson 19, Lee 25, Purvis 7, Snaza 13, Evander 2

FG: 27 of 64 —.422 FT: 9 of 11 —.818 Reb. 42 (Olson 11, Lee 8)

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