SPOKANE — Freshman Lalia Greene showed no first-game jitters under the bright lights of Spokane Arena, sinking her first three 3-point attempts of the game to spark Neah Bay to a 53-34 Class 1B state quarterfinal girls basketball victory over Mount Vernon Christian on Wednesday night.
“She came out on fire,” Red Devils coach Tony McCaulley said of Greene, who hit her first three shots in the first three minutes of the contest.
With the win, Neah Bay (23-2) advanced to a semifinal matchup against Pomeroy (20-5) Friday at 9 p.m., and assured the team will come home with at least a fifth-place trophy.
Greene hit 4 of 5 3-point tries on the night and led the team in scoring with 16. Her shooting was part of an outstanding 11 of 24 (45.1 percent) effort from beyond the arc for the Red Devils.
“I don’t know, I mean obviously, you don’t want to come in cocky like you’re going to win, but you have to come in with the mentality that you are going to go hard,” Greene said.
It wasn’t just Greene who brought that mindset under the bright lights at the state B tournament for the Red Devils. Fellow freshmen Courtney Swan, Patience Swan and Ruth Moss all contributed solid stretches of play at various moments in the contest.
Neah Bay coach Tony McCaulley admitted he didn’t know what to expect out of that group coming into the game.
“I just didn’t really know, you never really know how the girls are going to come out and play [at state], let alone as freshmen, but they came out focused. I was a little worried about that, we’ve already been here a long time this week and I was a little worried about that too, but I thought we came out and played pretty dang well.”
“I thought if we could not foul like we did last time [against Mount Vernon Christian] and not turn the ball over we would be in really, really good shape against this team.”
Courtney Swan hit an early 3-pointer as Neah Bay jumped out to a 12-4 lead with 5 minutes left in the first quarter. She ended up knocking down 3 of 4 3s and scoring 11 for the Red Devils while adding nine rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Coincidentally enough, those 3-point makes came in the Red Devils’ third win of the season against the Hurricanes, all three wins coming by 17 or more points.
McCaulley, who has plenty of experience coaching against an opponent three times in one season in fall football clashes with Lummi, didn’t take the game lightly.
“Jeff [Droog]’s a great coach and he has some talented girls on that team,” McCaulley said. “We didn’t underestimate them. They were able to take some things away from us that we normally get on them, so I was super worried about them.”
Mount Vernon Christian climbed back into it and tied the game late in the first quarter, but Patience Swan came off the bench to score seven straight points for Neah Bay as the Red Devils led 19-14 after one quarter. She finished with 11 points, all in the first half.
Defense carried Neah Bay in the second quarter. The Red Devils didn’t yield a point for the first 4:34 of the period and went up 31-18 at halftime when senior point guard Gina McCaulley sent a sweet no-look pass zipping inside to Swan for a bucket just before the break. McCaulley finished with seven assists, five points and two steals.
Neah Bay held the Hurricanes to just 13 of 57 (22 percent) shooting in the game and forced 13 turnovers.
Moss got things going out quickly in the second half, scoring the first of her seven third-quarter points inside. She closed the frame with a 3 from the left corner, Neah Bay’s second straight 3 in a row, the other coming from Courtney Swan, and the Red Devils pushed their lead from 38-26 to 44-26 heading to the fourth quarter.
Neah Bay 53, Mount Vernon Christian 34
MVC 14 4 8 8 — 34
NB 19 12 13 9 — 53
Mount Vernon Christian (34)
J. Droog 9, J. Hill 8, Lam 8, B. Hill 5, Hood 3, Faber 1.
Neah Bay (53)
Greene 16, P. Swan 11, C. Swan 11, Moss 7, McCaulley 5, Svec 3, Winck, Yallup, McCarty-Corpuz, Della, Pilatti, Woodruff.