By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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“That was tougher than I expected,” Red Devils head coach Tony McCaulley said after a wild fourth quarter that saw his team turn the ball over on its first five possessions.
“Wellpinit is a scrappy team that wanted it real bad and played hard.”
The game was tight all the way through, with the Redskins using the bank shot to near perfection, a tactic they would employ all game long, to lead Neah Bay 17-16 after one period.
Red Devils post Faye Chartraw stepped back to knock down a 3-pointer to open the second period and after a 3-pointer from Cierra Moss, Neah Bay was on an 8-0 run and looked to be on the verge of pulling away from Wellpinit, up 24-17 with 6:32 until halftime.
Chartraw was a force inside all game for the Red Devils, leading all scorers with 22 points and dominating on the offensive and defensive glass.
Moss picked up her second foul with 3:18 to go until intermission, but stayed on the floor and didn't pick up that important third foul, as the Red Devils led 34-28 at half.
Moss finished with 20 points for the Red Devils.
The Redskins game plan was simple: shorter shots have a higher chance of becoming made buckets. So Wellpinit would dribble-drive to the rim for layups or methodically work the ball into the post before turning and shooting bank shots off the glass.
The referees aversion to whistling the Redskins for any three-seconds-in-the-key violations or for traveling on some of those wild rushes to the rim, also helped Wellpinit stay in
Both teams looked tentative to start the third quarter, with neither side able to get on the scoreboard until a Kyra Antone bucket 2:22 into the third pulled the Redskins to within 34-30.
Antone led Wellpinit with 19 points.
The Redskins went on a 6-0 run, capped by a Ronnie Flett basket, to tie the score at 38-all with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
The Red Devils went back inside, getting buckets from Chartraw and Moss to close out the quarter up 42-38.
Then with state just eight minutes away, a nervous Neah Bay team gifted the ball to Wellpinit on its first five opportunities of the fourth quarter.
After the Redskins tied the game on a bucket by Antone with 5:47 to play, the Red Devils received two clutch free throws from sophomore Holly Greene, their first points of the final period, to lead 44-42 with 4:24 to go.
A few trips down the floor later, Flett hit her own pair of big free throws to tie the game at 48-apiece.
Enter eight-grader Jessica Greene for “defensive purposes,” according to McCaulley.
Greene subbed in and swiftly knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer to break the tie and put the Red Devils up for good 51-48 with 2:10 to go in the contest.
“That was such a huge shot, so big for an eighth-grader. We put her in there for defense because she has long arms and can get some steals for us, so that 3-pointer was a bonus,” McCaulley said.
“A huge bonus.”
After a prayer of an inside scoop shot by Chartraw put Neah Bay up 53-50, Dyani Wynecoop went to the glass off an inbounds pass to convert another bank-shot score for Wellpinit and trim the lead to 53-52 with 23.1 seconds to go.
“She's a solid player for us,” McCaulley said of Chartraw.
“It was a gritty performance from her today and that scoop shot was something else.”
The Red Devils were able to weather a turnover by Jessica Greene on the ensuing inbounds play, and forced a jump ball, alternating possession call after a Redskins shot went awry.
Moss was knocked to the floor after receiving the inbounds pass, but somehow kept her dribble on the baseline before being fouled.
With Wellpinit not yet in the foul bonus, the Red Devils had to get the ball in play cleanly one more time before shooting free throws.
They were able to do so and an intentional foul was called on Wynecoop after she hauled Moss, who was attempting to dribble out the final seconds, to the floor.
Neah Bay received two shots and the ball with 8.7 seconds and Moss converted 1 of 2, and after another foul went 2 of 2 from the line to account for the final margin.
“A hard-fought game before you go over to Spokane is good for us,” McCaulley said.
The Red Devils will learn their state opponent after today's tournament draw.
State tournament play begins Thursday at the Spokane Arena.
Neah Bay 56, Wellpinit 52
Wellpinit 17 11 10 14— 52
Neah Bay 16 18 8 14— 56