By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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Less than 90 seconds into the game, with the fifth-ranked Red Devils trailing 4-1, McCaulley brought three starters to the bench and inserted freshman Vonte Aguirre and eighth-graders Gina McCaulley and Jessica Greene.
The underclassmen provided a spark that spread until the final buzzer of Neah Bay's 80-34 win over Tulalip Heritage in the opening round of the 1B Tri-District tournament at Port Angeles High School on Tuesday night.
The Red Devils advance to face Muckleshoot tonight at Mount Vernon Christian High School at 6 p.m.
If they win, they'll play for the district championship Saturday.
“We wanted about a four-minute rotation on that, but it wasn't quite going like I wanted it,” Tony McCaulley said of the early substitution in Tuesday's game.
“So we flushed them and had a talk with the other girls and got them back in and settled them down a little bit.”
Tulalip's Katia Brown hit a 3-pointer after the substitution to make it 7-1. Cierra Moss responded with a bucket.
Then, the younger players made their impact, specifically Jessica Greene.
Greene stole the ball and was fouled on the subsequent layup attempt. She made 1 of 2 free throws to cut the Hawks lead down to 7-4.
A minute later, Greene made another steal, poking the ball away from Brown near the Neah Bay basket, then tracked it down, bounced it through her legs and banked it into the net with one hand.
That made it 7-6.
Greene finished with 17 points and had seven of Neah Bay's 19 steals.
“Give it to our lowerclassmen, man. They gave us fire, so we just fed off that,” senior Cierra Moss said.
“I told them before the game, they're going to win it for us, and they did.”
Moss finished with game-highs of 30 points and 17 rebounds.
The remainder of the first half was a physical, back-and-forth battle that finished with the Red Devils leading 25-23.
The first three minutes of the third quarter was much of the same, with Neah Bay leading 29-27.
Then the Red Devils took off.
Holly Greene drilled a 3-pointer, Moss scored on a layup, Jessica Greene hit a 3.
Jessica Greene added a pair of free throws set up by a steal, and a fastbreak layup off a pass by Moss.
With 2:43 remaining in the period, Neah Bay's lead swelled to 41-27 after a 12-0 run.
Brown broke the streak with a running jumper after a Tulalip timeout, but the Hawks never recovered.
The Red Devils finished the quarter on an 8-0 run, that extended to a 21-1 run that made Neah Bay's lead 62-30 with 5:56 to play in the game.
From the 5:12 mark of the third quarter through the end of the game, the Red Devils outscored Tulalip 51-7.
“I think conditioning, and, I don't know, I think we frustrated them a little bit and they just kind of lost their head a little bit — it looked like to me,” Tony McCaulley said was the difference in the second half.
“I mean, they're a better ball club than that, they really are. They just lost their composure a little bit, frustration with the defense.
“But you've got to hand it to our girls, we played extremely tough defense.”
Neah Bay's defense plan worked like a charm.
The three Greenes, Aguirre and Gina McCaulley took turns guarding Brown and held her to nine points, while Faye Chartraw and Blaire Hill teamed up to slow down Adiya Jones.
It also showed their depth.
“Deep bench. We don't ever doubt ourselves, because we've got a deep bench,” Moss said.
“It's really fun playing with our team — oh my gosh, we tore it up tonight.”
And holding that depth together were Moss and Chartraw, who finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds
“They're good. They're some of the best players on this side of the mountains in the B leagues,” Tony McCaulley said.
“Those two can really play the game and they're in excellent condition; they work hard every day.”
Neah Bay 80, Tulalip Heritage 34
Tulalip 13 10 6 5— 34
Neah Bay 17 8 24 31— 80
Brown 9, Adiya Jones 10, Verda 2, Williams 2, Aliya Jones 6, Tyler 5.
Neah Bay (80)
Haily Greene 8, Holly Greene 6, Jessica Greene 17, McCaulley 2, Chartraw 15, Moss 30, Hill 2.
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.