ADNA — If it weren’t literally impossible to lose a game in the first quarter the Pirates would have been in a world of hurt here on Thursday. Rainier came into the unincorporated hamlet and looked like the toast of the league for the first seven minutes before Adna was able to find any offensive rhythm at all.
The Pirates wound up sneaking in four points in the final minute of that first frame, including a runner at the buzzer by Payton Aselton, to cut their deficit to two points before going on to claim a 46-41 win over the Mountaineers in their Central 2B League girls basketball contest.
“We lost a little bit of focus there in the first quarter,” said Rainier coach Brandon Eygabroad. “It was 8-2 and we were locking them down for the first seven minutes of the quarter and then they stole two quick buckets in the last minute.”
Over on the Adna sideline, coach Chris Bannish wasn’t surprised at all by his team’s tough go out of the gate. He was simply relieved that they found a way to right the ship before it was too late.
“I think it’s attributed to us being us. That’s who we are. We’re slow starters,” said Bannish. “I think tonight was a little bit of nerves. It was the best crowd we’ve had and we knew what was at stake.”
The Pirates erased their early deficit entirely thanks to 20-4 run over the final nine minutes of the first half. Faith Wellander drained a three-pointer with six minutes left in the second quarter to give Adna their first lead at 11-8 and Tyas Pannette followed that up almost immediately with a three-pointer of her own. Before the second quarter had ended Makaela Meister had gotten in on the long-range fun and Pannette closed the quarter with another three ball to give Adna a 22-12 advantage at the half.
“They moved the ball really well against us and their defense, their triangle and two, was really effective against us tonight. My shooters weren’t really shooting or hitting,” said Eygabroad.
Indeed, Bannish and company came into the contest looking to take away Rainier’s long-range threats after the Mountaineers shot the lights out against Mossyrock earlier in the week to hand the Vikings their first loss of the season.
“Talk about carrying about a game plan against their two girls and sticking with the game plan even when some other girls hit some shots. We weren’t going to let those two girls beat us,” said Bannish of Kaeley Schultz and Faith Boesch.
Against Mossyrock Schlutz and Boesch accounted for 21 and 26 points, respectively. Against the Pirates Schlutz managed a game-high 17 points while Boesch was held scoreless. Sophie Beadle did her part to keep Rainier close with 13 points and six steals.
“What almost beat us was the free throw line. They shot the free throws well,” said Bannish.
The Mountaineers knocked down 21 of 27 free throws on the night and used a 15-6 advantage in the third quarter to get back in the game. Rainier finished the third quarter trailing just 28-27 and then buried a three to open the fourth quarter to take their first lead in more than 15 minutes of game play.
Adna was able to find their druthers down the stretch, though, and began hitting their mark from the outside to recapture the lead for good. With just over four minutes left in the game Kaylin Todd drove the lane and sank a scoop shot layin to tie the game at 35-35. Moments later Todd sank a pair of free throws to give the Pirates the lead again for good.
“Our studs at the end were the two that came off the bench,” Bannish said. “Ellie Sliva hit a big three, and Makaela Meister, who shoot maybe 20 threes all year, but she’s been shooting it well and she hit three tonight.”
Payton Aselton led Adna with a balanced output of nine points, eight rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Meister and Wellander also notched nine points apiece while Todd finished with eight points.