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Prep girls basketball: Turnovers doom top-seeded Napavine in 2B opener

Feb. 24—BOX SCORE

At W.F. West

VIKINGS 48, TIGERS 38

Mabton13 11 15 9 — 48

Napavine15 8 11 4 — 38

Mabton (48) — Zavala 19, Sanchez 15, Chavez 4, Macedo 4, Roettger 3, Ramirez 3

Napavine (38) — O'Neill 15, McCoy 6, Kaut 6, Hamilton 6, Evander 3, Gall 2

It was two months ago that Napavine High School's girls basketball team fended off Mabton in a winter meeting on December 23. The optics of that matchup were stark in contrast.

The Tigers were in the cozy confines of their home gym; the Vikings ended up sleeping in a cold classroom, staying up until 2 a.m.

"What's at-stake is different," Napavine head coach Shane Schutz said. "What you do in December is not where you are in February. They were out to prove a lot."

What a difference 63 days can make.

Eighth-seeded Mabton forced 25 turnovers and made several clutch 3-pointers en route to a stunning 48-38 upset over the top-seeded Tigers in a Class 2B opening round contest on Saturday afternoon at W.F. West High School.

"That's a tribute to Mabton," Schutz said. "They were mentally, physically tougher than we were tonight. The tougher team won and it is a good lesson to learn from."

Having not lost in over a month, Napavine (21-3) now finds itself in an elimination Round of 12 game against Tonasket on Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Spokane Arena. The team pegged by most to make a deep run now has its backs against the wall.

"After hearing about their win against Warden last week, that definitely put us a-back and we knew we would have to prepare a different way,," senior forward Keira O'Neill said. "I hope we use it to fuel our fire."

The Tigers' size advantage was the strength of the 61-44 win when they met in the regular season. Hayden Kaut stuffed the stat sheet with a four-by-five of 14 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five blocks.

Mabton (19-6) limited Kaut to six points and eight rebounds on Saturday.

"We had a lot of watchers tonight," Schutz said, routinely singing the praises of the Vikings' unit. "The credit goes to them. They outplayed us start to finish. I told the kids 'You tried,' but trying doesn't always make for success. They outworked us."

For several possessions in both halves, the Tigers were slow on defensive rotations and they lacked the finishing ability on the glass. Mabton finished with 11 offensive rebounds and turned them into eight second chance points. It scored 19 points off the high number of turnovers.

"We were off tonight," O'Neill said.

The third quarter was filled with fouls as both sides never got into a rhythm. Of the 39 fouls called on the day, 18 of them came in the stanza out of the locker room. Napavine struggled to capitalize from the charity stripe, going 7-of-23 for the game and 3-for-14 in the third.

"It is frustrating," O'Neill said.

O'Neill, who led the Tigers with a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double, tied the game at 31 in the third on two straight buckets and brought them to within three and five points in the fourth.

Mabton's Alana Zavala buried a corner 3-pointer that put the Vikings up 10 with under two minutes left that proved to be the dagger.

Napavine was able to routinely get clean looks in the paint early, using that to spark an 8-0 run and lead for the majority of the opening frame. Mabton took the lead on a 6-0 spree and Ashley Macedo connected a buzzer-beating layup to end the first half that gave the Vikings a 24-23 advantage.

"They clamped us down and they took us out of what we were supposed to do," Schutz said. "I need to do a better job."

To get where the Tigers envision their season going, they'll have to take a route unlike anyone else as the top seed. Through the Round of 12 and if they reach the semis, they could meet one of their C2BL rivals in Adna or Rainier.

"Definitely tougher (road)," O'Neill said. "I'm hoping we can apply our defensive principles and come away with a win."