ADNA — The journey doesn’t matter in basketball, only the destination.
The Adna girl’s basketball team didn’t have its best night on defense early, its workhorse down low was kept quiet, and the Pirates’ attempt to seal the game away late went a bit haywire. But getting into the back end of January, the only stat that truly matters is the 51-47 final score in their favor over Rainier on Thursday.
“Getting out with a win, that was the thing against a good team,” Adna coach Chris Bannish said. “It’s that time of year, where these games are going to present themselves… You try to do these scenarios in practice, but a lot of the times it always works, and it doesn’t always work when you’re playing varsity-level teams.”
The win puts Adna two games clear of Rainier for second place in the Central 2B League with three league games left; that spot would give them a first-round bye in the upcoming district tournament.
Sophomore Gaby Guard and Danika Hallom did most of the damage for the Pirates, with the former dropping 20 points and the latter putting up 17.
The two stepped up in a big way with the Mountaineers focusing so heavily on senior Karlee VonMoos down low. With Haleigh Hanson standing her up in the post and at least one Mountaineer perimeter player helping out any time she touched the ball, the VonMoos was held to nine points on 4-of-13 shooting, but did come down with a team-high 13 boards.
“It wasn’t Karlee’s best night, and we rely on Karlee all the time for everything we do,” Bannish said. “If we can win a game against a team like that when our best player has an off-night, we’ll take it.”
Rainier’s offense didn’t start out any better, though, with the game sitting a 6-4 in the hosts’ favor after a quarter. The Mountaineers’ half-court sets cut through Adna’s zone defense early with precision to get to good looks in the post, but Rainier couldn’t convert, shooting 29% from the field in the first half.
“We left a lot of points on the board with those easy 2-footers, and I was telling the girls, that game changes a lot if we put a couple of those in,” Rainier coach Brandon Eygaroad said.
Despite the missed chances, Rainier still kept things close going into halftime, trailing by two at 20-18 after Guard hit a layup as time ran down on the second quarter.
In the third, though, that would change. Switching out of its 2-3 zone, the Adna defense befuddled Rainier for eight minutes, holding the Mountaineers to just four points and one made field goal in the period. On the other end, Guard went off for 12 points for herself, as the Pirates went on a 17-4 run to take a 15-point lead into the final period.
Rainier never went away, trimming the lead down with a quick flurry of buckets in transition to keep it hanging around eight for much of the fourth. Going into the final minute, the Mountaineers mounted one last push, with a Janess Blackburn jumper cutting it to back to eight with 36 seconds left. After a missed free throw, Angelica Askey drove to the hoop, drew a foul, and completed the old-fashioned three-point play, and when Brooklynn Swenson stole the ensuing inbounds pass and made an easy layup, the gap was down to three points with 20 ticks still remaining.
The comeback attempt came up just short, though, as Adna got the ball in and Hallom hit a free throw to seal it.
”There’s just so many situations that we got stuck in there that probably shouldn’t have happened,” Bannish said. “But they did happen, and now we learn from it.”
Askey finished with 15 points to lead the Mountaineers, Swenson pitched in 11, and Hanson added 10.
Rainier will return home next Tuesday, continuing C2BL play against Morton-White Pass. Adna will kick off a week of road trips at Toledo.