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Pirates hold off Riverhawks to advance to district title game

Feb. 15—Box Score

At Kelso

PIRATES 63, RIVERHAWKS 54

Adna15 15 16 17 — 63

Toledo12 13 16 13 — 54

Adna (63) — B. Salme 26, T. Salme 14, Johnson 13, Neilson 8, Muller 2

Toledo (54) — Winters 17, Fallon 12, Stanley 11, Gale 7, Stemkoski 4, Weeks 2, Kruger 1

KELSO — Just three games into Adna's season, the Pirates were dealt a crazy blow.

Already missing All-C2BL first-teamer Braeden Salme, Eli Smith went down with a knee injury, and suddenly, the Pirates were down two of most impactful players.

They continued to battle, Salme was able to return after missing 14 games, and now, after three straight wins in the 2B District 4 Tournament, the Pirates are off to the state tournament.

Adna clinched its spot, and a spot in the district title game, with a 63-54 win over Toledo on Thursday. Like so many other of their wins over the season, it wasn't always pretty, but it was enough.

"This year has been crazy," Adna coach Luke Salme said. "More adversity thrown at us than anything I've ever experienced.

"There have definitely been some bumps ... But I believe good things happen to good people, and that's a locker room full of good kids."

On Thursday, the Pirates (17-7, 9-4 C2BL) held a slim lead throughout most of the game, but the Riverhawks (16-8, 6-7 C2BL) were always within striking distance.

After a back-and-forth first half, it finally seemed that Adna was pulling away with a 12-0 run in the third quarter, but Toledo immediately responded with an 8-0 run to get right back within four.

In the fourth, a Lane Johnson lay-in made it an eight-point game, and a Kaven Winters three brought it back to five with three minutes remaining.

"We couldn't shake them," Salme said before laughing. "I got a little nervous there about seven times during the game and it felt like we couldn't shake them, and eventually, that buzzer went off and we were on the right side of it."

Braeden Salme was at his best, scoring 26 points, and Trevin Salme, who didn't score in the regular season meeting between these two teams, hit three 3-pointers and scored 14 points. Lane Johnson added 13, and Jens Neilson hit a late three as part of his eight.

"You just couldn't ever catch up to where you could breathe," Toledo coach Grady Fallon said. "They just didn't let you relax at all."

While Fallon was quick to give credit to Adna, he also dwelled on how the Riverhawks missed their chances to close the gap on several occasions. Toledo turned the ball over 21 times on the night, while Adna did so just six times.

"So many unforced errors," Fallon said. "I don't know if (the Pirates) wanted it more, but they sure played like it."

Kaven Winters led the Riverhawks with 17 points, while Cooper Fallon scored 12 and Rogan Stanley added 11.

Toledo still has two chances left to earn a spot in the state tournament, the first of which will come against Chief Leschi on Friday at W.F. West.

As for the Pirates, they're back in the district title game for the second straight season, and up next is undefeated Napavine.

Salme couldn't be more excited for his team, saying that they're going to go out and "give it their darnedest."

"Every high school basketball player in Southwest Washington wants to play in a district title game at W.F. West on a Saturday night," Salme said.