Pirates Ousted in Opening Round of State
By Eric Trent
SPOKANE — One and done. It wasn’t the start Adna girls wanted in its first trip to the 2B state tournament in three years, but it was the one they faced Wednesday in Spokane.
The Pirates struggled against Northwest Christian’s fast-paced, turnover-fueled offense in a 47-28 upset loss to the Crusaders in a loser-out state opener.
“This team is the hardest working, as a whole, that I’ve coached out of the eight years,” Adna coach Chris Bannish said. “These are the kids you’d want to go to war with. If you’re talking about a team, this is the ultimate team you’d want to coach. If you could coach this team every year, you’d do it for 30 years. But they don’t come around like this very often.”
The sixth-seeded Pirates were befuddled by No. 14 Northwest Christian and its speedy squad that forced 24 turnovers and swiped 18 steals.
The Pirates looked out of sorts early on, falling behind from the get-go as NWC swiped back-to-back steals and layups, showing straight away the capabilities of its quick-striking offense.
“We were checking two back the whole time and we weren’t getting back,” Bannish said. “I thought their transition game hurt us. Everything they got came in the paint for them. We weren’t stopping penetration.”
The Crusaders then ripped off a 9-0 run on three consecutive fastbreaks. Five of Northwest Christian’s first six buckets were fastbreaks, including three steals and coast-to-coast layups, as the Pirates struggled to slow the speedy Crusaders.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Summer White and Ellie Sliva to start the second helped Adna climb back in it, part of a 9-2 run that spread the end of the first and start of the second quarter, giving the Pirates their first lead of the game at 17-16. Payton Aselton’s pick and layup seconds later put the Pirates on top 19-16 as Adna’s fan section erupted in cheer. Aselton finished with a team-high 12 points.
“Once we started attacking it was too late,” Bannish said. “We had three steals in a row in our press that we either mishandled or gave it back. That was our opportunity right there.”
But the Crusaders answered with a 3-pointer of their own, sparking a 16-2 run that featured two 3-pointers and two and-ones, to close the first half with a commanding 31-21 lead.
Northwest Christian increased that run and lead into the second half, reeling off a 9-0 advantage to start the half. It wasn’t until Payton Aselton’s 3-pointer that NWC’s 25-2 run came to an end. The Crusaders answered right back with another steal and fastbreak bucket. The Pirates were held to just three points in the third quarter.
It was more of the same in the final frame as Adna’s shooting woes continued while NWC attacked the rim with impunity. The Crusaders extended their lead to 20 with 5:22 left in the game, putting what would be the final stamp on a blowout, upset win over the Pirates.
Seniors Payton Aselton, Tyas Pannette and Makaela Meister played their final games for the Pirates, who went 21-7 on the season.
“We started with them back when they were seventh and eighth graders,” Bannish said. “They put a lot of time in as freshman and sophomores that they deserve this moment. Pannette comes off an ACL, and for her to stick with us all summer, she never missed a game. Aselton is the one that gets to play a little more with soccer. Meister is just steady. She knows everything on the court. They all bring great qualities. They’re not just good athletes, they’re good people. These are the type of people I want my kids to be around. These are kids that babysit for me. I trust them.”
CRUSADERS 47, PIRATES 28
NWC (Colbert) 15 16 11 12 —47
Adna 11 10 3 4 —28
NWC (47) — Sander 13, Smith 8, Carey 10, Nelson 10, Tunison 4, Clemmer 4
FG: 18 of 50 —.360 FT: 8 of 11 —.727 Reb. 33 (Sander 8)
Adna (28) — Aselton 12, White 6, Sliva 6, Todd 2, Wellander 2
FG: 10 of 40 —.250 FT: 3 of 5 —.278 Reb. 34 (Aselton, Wellander 7)