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Tigers make necessary adjustments to top Ducks, advance to title game

Feb. 13—Box Score

At Kelso

TIGERS 48, DUCKS 38

Toutle Lake 6 14 7 11 — 38

Napavine11 10 19 8 — 48

Toutle Lake (38) — L. Dean 11, Cooper 10, Fraidenburg 10, K. Dean 3, P. Thayer 2, Brandhorst 2

Napavine (48) — O'Neill 12, Kaut 10, Gall 8, McCoy 6, Evander 6, H. Fay 3, Hamilton 2, Schutz 1

KELSO — Halfway through their district semifinal against Toutle Lake on Tuesday, the Napavine Tigers were in an unfamiliar spot. They had scored just 21 points in the first 16 minutes of the game, and they were clinging to a one-point lead.

Over the next 10 minutes, Schutz and his staff poured over what they were doing wrong, and more importantly, the adjustments they needed to make.

"They did some things that we just haven't seen and weren't ready for, and we didn't react well to it," Napavine coach Shane Schutz said. "Once they understand it, then they can execute it ... It made for a better second half."

The Tigers made the proper tweaks, pulling away in the second half for a 48-38 win in the 2B District 4 semifinals, clinching a spot in the district title game and a spot in the state tournament.

"Sometimes you're gonna win ugly, and we won ugly tonight," Schutz said. "Sometimes you have to survive and advance, and that's what we did today."

It certainly wasn't pretty early, as the Tigers (20-2, 12-1 C2BL) and Ducks combined to shoot for 12 for 52 from the field, including a 1 for 14 mark from deep.

In the second half, the Tigers ramped up the defensive intensity, forcing several turnovers and getting easier looks in transition. By the end of the night, Napavine had scored 23 points off 21 Toutle Lake turnovers.

"I think we frustrated them," Schutz said. "They turned it over, and those turnovers created points for us."

While Napavine's shooting improved on the offensive end, they were still able to limit the Ducks on the other end.

Toutle Lake shot just 25 percent from the floor on the night, which allowed Napavine to pull away in the second half even on an off-night offensively. By the time the Tigers turned towards the end of their bench in the fourth, they had extended their lead to 20.

Keira O'Neill was all over the paint on both ends of the floor, leading the Tigers with 12 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks. Schutz commended O'Neill, saying that she came through on a night where they needed her to, not just on the scoresheet, but with a boost of morale.

"She brings the energy that sometimes others lack," Schutz said. "And it lifts them. That's what she did tonight, especially in the second half. She just out-worked, out-played, and just took over."

The Ducks put their defensive focus on Hayden Kaut, who scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Grace Gall hit a pair of threes and finished with eight points. Jessie McCoy also connected twice from beyond the arc, and Taylen Evander added six points and five assists.

The win sets up a rematch with Rainier, who topped Adna in the other semifinal on Tuesday. The Tigers trounced Rainier the first time around at home, but Schutz knows that Saturday's rematch in the district title game at W.F. West will be a much more difficult task.

"It's gonna be a battle," Schutz said. "Some of the top two teams in the state. We're gonna be on display, and hopefully we can entertain people."