MONTESANO — Both Taholah and Naselle’s boys and girls basketball teams were ensured of a regional berth entering Saturday’s District IV 1B championship games, but there was still plenty to play for at Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.
In the girls championship game, Taholah relied upon its defense to sustain enough offense to get past Naselle, 36-28, for its second straight district title.
In the boys championship game, the Chitwhins made it three in a row with a strong second-half performance en route to a 63-54 win over the Comets.
Taholah and Naselle will meet for a rematch on the boys side of the regional with a matchup on Friday at 8 p.m. at Tumwater High School.
Taholah’s girls will travel to Chiawana High School in Pasco to face Sunnyside Christian at Noon on Saturday.
Taholah boys 63, Naselle 54
Junior Zach Cain made it a habit in this third meeting between Taholah and Naselle — he scored the final points of the first three quarters. He didn’t need to in the fourth.
After a tough first quarter where both teams struggled to find their range on offense, Cain easily maneuvered for a driving layup in the final seconds for a 13-11 lead. Cain, Levi Jackson and Tom Anderson all found their scoring range against Naselle’s quick defense in the second quarter.
Using the Comets’ turnovers against them, the Chitwhins extended their lead on the run, an 18-8 quarter that set up a wild second half. Cain, who scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, ended the frame with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for a 31-19 lead.
Naselle kept itself close in spurts and played even with Taholah in the third quarter before Brett Orozco knocked down a trey and Cain and Anderson free throws pushed the lead to 46-28 after three. Cain drained two free throws with less than a second left to end the quarter.
In the fourth, Taholah drained the clock and had plenty of chances at the free-throw line, hitting 6-for-18 in the quarter. Even with the miscues at the line, the Chitwhins never gave back to the lead to the Comets, who nearly doubled their points total in the fourth but only got as close as the final margin.
“We already knew we were going to regionals, so we were playing for pride and to win the district championship,” Taholah head coach Mike Rose said. “That is what the kids wanted. We were able to get it done.”
Jackson added 18 points and Cain pulled in 16 rebounds for the Chitwhins. Jacob Eaton led Naselle with 14 points.
Taholah girls 36, Naselle 28
Even with postseason plans already set for next weekend, there were some nerves for both Naselle and Taholah in the opening game of the day.
Neither team could find a consistent offensive presence in this title game, thanks to the game’s circumstances and both teams’ defenses. In turn, all it took was one quick offensive spurt to separate these two league rivals.
The run came midway through the second quarter from Taholah. Coming out of a timeout with just under 5 minutes remaining, the Chitwhins turned a 2-point lead into an 11-point lead — 3-pointers from Nettie Grover and Denise Dolan — at 19-8.
A smaller run just after halftime, turning a 20-14 lead into a 27-14 margin in the first minute of the third quarter, provided the distance and the cushion for Taholah.
“We’ve been playing strong defense all year,” Taholah head coach Karl Braden said. “We are young, playing freshmen and sophomores, with two eighth graders and only one senior. We’ve used our defense all year to boost our offense. I’m pleased with how they played today.”
Dolan led Taholah with 11 points, six steals and five assists and Grover added a double-double — 10 points and 14 rebounds. Celisha Ralston added 12 rebounds and Kayleah McCrory swiped five steals.
Naselle 4 10 8 6 — 28 Taholah 7 13 10 6 — 36
Naselle (28) — Scrabeck 2, Chapman 11, Harman, Ford 5, Tu’Tu’u 2, Zimmerman, Gudmundsen 5, Jacot, Weston 3. FG — 9-61. FT — 8-14.
Taholah (36) — Dolan 11, Pope, McCrory 5, N. Grover 10, Underwood, Ralston 3, T. Grover 7, Sailto. FG — 12-54. FT — 7-14.
Naselle 11 8 9 26 — 54 Taholah 13 18 15 17 — 63
Naselle (54) — Fontanilla, Edwards 9, Lindstrom 2, Nolan 13, Eaton 14, Lund 8, Lopez, Fauver, Gregory 8. FG — 24-62. FT — 2-9.
Taholah (63) — Anderson 18, Orozco 5, Dan, Jackson 8, J. Orozco, Purdy 2, J. Bastian, Cain 24, Jones 4, D. Bastian 2, Young. FG — 22-50. FT — 16-54.