SPOKANE — Neah Bay stood tall for much of the game, but couldn’t overcome both a height and foul discrepancy and a tough shooting afternoon in a 70-42 loss to Sunnyside Christian in the 3rd/5th-place game at the Class 1B state girls basketball tournament.
The Red Devils finished 23-4 on the season and will return to Neah Bay with the fifth-place trophy, tied for the third-best finish in school history.
Neah Bay put pressure on the Knights through three quarters and trailed 44-32 heading to the fourth, until foul trouble and some tired legs caught up to the team down the stretch.
“I thought we played pretty dang well,” Red Devils coach Tony McCaulley said.” I was pretty happy. We played better than yesterday [a 44-29 semifinal loss to Pomeroy]. I think Sunnyside is a better team than Pomeroy. i can’t gauge that, but I thought we came to play today and we fought.
“And they are just better than us. We knew that going in and we knew we would have to play a perfect game to beat them. But I think we made them a little nervous.”
Sunnyside Christian had the height advantage on Neah Bay and were able to exploit for much of the game.
Senior post Emily Banks scored 27 points, 14 in the fourth quarter as the Knights pulled away, and 5-11 freshmen Jenna Andringa added 10 points.
The Red Devils did what they could to stop the two inside, but fouls began to pile up on Neah Bay’s posts.
“They got a lot of points on the inside and we knew that was going to happen,” McCaulley said. “We did get some great performances — Kayla Winck played outstanding on the inside, her last game as a senior and she really played well.”
Winck had four first-quarter points off the bench, helping the Red Devils hang around, down 19-14. She kept it up, rebounding and playing physically inside against the taller Knights.
Neah Bay got as close as three points in the second quarter on a pair of steals and runout layups by senior point guard Gina McCaulley. But a scoring drought of 4 minutes, 10 seconds hurt, as did the return of Banks, who briefly left the game with a knee injury.
Banks cashed in for five straight points late in the first half and the Red Devils trailed 33-20 at halftime.
Lalia Greene started the second half with a quick 3-pointer, the first of her-team high 15 points for Neah Bay, and later added a beautiful reverse layup in traffic after another steal as the Red Devils pulled within 10, 42-32, with 1:17 to go in the third quarter.
But Ruth Moss fouled out late in the third, Winck played with four fouls for much of the half, and Neah Bay’s legs grew a little weary in the fourth as Banks piled on the points.
“A lot of it was ticky-tack,” McCaulley said of the foul calls. “I don’t think it bothered the girls too much, it bothered me, but they played through it really well.”
“We were tired, they were tired and they hit a few shots late. We could have pressed [defensively], but in the back of my mind I think we would have been risking injury.
“That’s a really, really good team we played. Probably the second-best team behind Colton. We know where we are gauged and what we need to do to improve.”
It was the final game for McCaulley’s daughter Gina McCaulley, who is expected to officially sign with Peninsula College and play for the Pirates next season.
“I’m going to miss it a lot, she’s going to go play at PC and I’ll be able to go watch,” McCaulley said. “I’m going to enjoy that.”
McCaulley also said he is likely to step away from the head coach position.
“I think so, I’m about 99 percent sure. We have a person in mind [to take over] but she wants me to stay another year,” he said.
“I love this team, I wouldn’t step away if I didn’t feel they were in a good spot. They are truly a bunch of good girls and they are going to go far in the future.”
Neah Bay stands to return leading scorer Courtney Swan, leading rebounder Ruth Moss, Lalia Greene who had an outstanding state tournament, and Patience Swan, who also played well in Spokane. Cheyenna Svec will bring experience as a senior, and freshman guard Jazzy Yallup also will be back. The Red Devils’ Cei’J Gagnon, who starred for Neah Bay as a freshman last season, should return from an ankle injury that wiped out her sophomore campaign.
The future is bright in Neah Bay.
Sunnyside Christian 70, Neah Bay 42
SC 19 14 11 26 — 70
NB 14 6 12 10 — 42
Sunnyside Christian (70) — E. Banks 27, Adringa 10, Candanoza 9, Martin 9, Liefke 6, Halma 4, S. Banks 3, Struikmans 2.
Neah Bay (42) — Greene 15, McCaulley 9, P. Swan 7, C. Swan 5, Winck 4, Moss 2, Svec, Della, Pilatti, Yallup, Woodruff.