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Tigers outlast Ducks to advance to district championship

Feb. 15—Box Score

At Kelso

TIGERS 71, DUCKS 57

Toutle Lake19 15 12 11 — 57

Napavine22 14 15 20 — 71

Toutle Lake (57) — Lundquist 18, Swanson 17, Cox 9, Kimball 7, Moss 4, Fraidenburg 2

Napavine (71) — Grose 31, Stanley 16, Kelly 9, Denault 6, Bullock 5, Prather 4

KELSO — Napavine coach Rex Stanley knew that the Tigers were in for a battle against Toutle Lake.

Though the Tigers entered the 2B District 4 quarterfinals unbeaten, including two wins over the Ducks, Stanley knew that Zach Swanson and company were going to come ready to play.

They did just that, but it wasn't enough. Just as they have all season long, the Tigers came through, pulling away late for a 71-57 win on Thursday to advance to the district title game.

"It's just a championship pedigree," Stanley said. "We knew it wasn't gonna be easy ... We got off to a rough start, and I'm real happy with how we held our composure and did exactly what we said we were gonna do."

The first half was as back and forth as it could be, with 14 ties and five ties happening in the first 16 minutes.

Napavine (21-0, 13-0 C2BL) had the lead at halftime, but only by two. They began to pull away by scoring the first seven points of the third, but Toutle Lake trimmed the lead back to three.

James Grose pushed the lead back to seven with the next two baskets, part of his game-high 31 points, including five threes.

"James is about as consistent a kid as I've been around," Stanley said. "This is just what he does every game."

On the court, it was Cael Stanley who helped put the game away. He scored 11 points, including two easy layups on an inbound play and a game-icing three. After the 3-pointer, Stanley let out a scream while flexing to the crowd.

After the final buzzer sounded, Stanley did the same while heading back to the Napavine bench.

"He brings it every day," Stanley said. "Cael's energy and competitive spirit is just off the charts, and I think they feed off of it."

Stanley finished with 16 points and six assists, while Karsen Denault scored six points and grabbed six rebounds and Jack Nelson hauled in seven rebounds.

The Tigers now have the chance to win their first district championship in 13 years. Having played in the first semifinal, Stanley wasn't 100 percent sure of Napavine's upcoming opponent, but he did know it would be against another C2BL opponent, and he knows the Tigers will be ready.

"We came through the Central 2B league," Stanley said. "It's gonna be tough .... It's gonna take our best effort."

Napavine will face Adna in the district title game on Saturday at W.F. West.