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Regional Girls Basketball: Pirates Falter in Fourth Quarter

By Eric Trent

etrent@chronline.com

LONGVIEW — Adna held an eight-point lead with four minutes to go by couldn’t hold on as Wahkiakum drilled a clutch 3 with 24 second remaining to take the lead for good and top the Pirates 46-44 at regionals on Saturday.

Up by eight with four minutes remaining, everything the Pirates had done to that point since reeling off an 11-1 run to end the first quarter had been working flawlessly. But as the Pirates took their foot off the gas offensively to run the clock and slow possessions, the Mules used it to snatch the momentum.

Wahkiakum cut the lead to six with 2:58 to go, then trimmed it down one at 44-43 before Megan Leitz drained her third 3-pointer of the night from the far corner to put the Mules on top for good. 

“If they miss that shot they’re having to foul,” Adna coach Chris Bannish said. “It was one shot, and it was a timely shot, and she made it. We had one missed assignment when she got that shot off. We helped too much. It’s basketball.”

If there’s one thing Bannish would take back it’s that he would have waited just a bit longer to start running the clock. It forced the Pirates out of their rhythm and played into the hands of the Mules.

“We went empty from 3:30 on, and I’ll wear a little bit of that,” Bannish said. “I probably should have let them keep playing for another two possessions before I burned some clock. I was trying to shorten the game there late. We didn’t end up getting great looks out of it. I could have done a better job of managing that.”

Payton Aselton did her usual damage on the offensive end for Adna, scoring a team-high 12 points on a red-hot six of 12 shooting to go with five rebounds and four assists. But it was Kaylin Todd who was the spark plug. The sophomore played what Bannish called her best game of the year after scoring eight points and dishing out a game-high seven assists and four steals.

“Kaylin Todd was the Kaylin Todd I remember from the summer,” Bannish said. “She turned it on today. She hadn’t done that all year. She took over. I’ve seen her do it.”

Sophomore Summer White came off the bench and provided big minutes, especially on the offensive end in the second half, finishing with seven points, two assists and a rebound. Junior Ellie Sliva knocked down two big 3s that allowed Adna to keep the Mules at bay midway through the game. Freshman Karlee VonMoos pulled down a team-high nine boards.

Praised his staff for putting together a game-plan that was highly effective for most the game. The Pirates switched up defenses throughout the contest to keep Wahkiakum’s sharpshooting point guard Paige Mace off kilter. It worked as Mace was held to just two points on the night.

“We kept them off their toes for the most part,” Bannish said. “They didn’t look comfortable for most that game. That was the goal going in.”

Despite the loss, Banish was pleased with what he saw from his team. It was an impressive showing nonetheless against the district champion Mules, a squad that beat a 21-2 second-ranked La Conner team earlier this season.

“What I saw today was a team that didn’t back down to the hype of what Wahkiakum’s done,” Bannish said. “We’re right there. We have the talent to beat anybody if we can put it together.”

No. 6 Adna (21-6) will take on No. 14 Northwest Christian Colbert (18-10) in a loser-out state opener at 9 a.m., Wednesday, in Spokane. NWC was 45-40 winners over No. 11 Waterville-Mansfield on Saturday. A win there would put Adna against No. 5 Ilwaco in the quarterfinals.

At Longview

MULES 46, PIRATES 44

Adna            13    10    12    9    —44

Wahkiakum        10    8    14    14    —46

    Adna (44) — Aselton 12, Todd 8, White 7, Sliva 6, Wellander 5, Meister 3, Pannette 3

    FG: 17 of 42 —.400 FT: 3 of 5 —.600 Reb. 25 (VonMoos 9)

    Wahkiakum (46) — M. Leitz 19, Merz 13, K. Leitz 5, Niemeyer 3, Kerstetter 4, Mace 2

    FG: 18 of 53 —.333 FT: 5 of 6 —.830 Reb. N/A

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