Editor’s note: Lane defeated Green River 72-52 in the NWAC championship game Sunday after press deadline.
PASCO — In a gutsy performance, the Peninsula College women’s basketball team literally gave all it had, battling through an almost bizarre rash of injuries to take Lane Community College to the final seconds of overtime in the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament semifinals.
The shorthanded Pirates nearly pulled off an epic upset over 31-1 Lane, but in the end, the Titans were able to pull the game out 92-90 with a basket by Toni Coleman with two seconds left in overtime. Coleman’s quickness to the basket had given the Pirates trouble all game and she finished with 26 points.
“We tried to force her left all game. She got loose at the end,” said Peninsula coach Alison Crumb. “I can’t be upset one play. “Lane is a tough team. They’re a No. 1 seed for a reason.” She said neither team deserved to lose.
Crumb said she will especially miss her sophomores who led the Pirates to two straight Final Fours. “We’ve shed a lot of tears in the last 18 hours,” she said.
Lane dominated inside early as their post player Chloe Daniels had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. Thanks partly to a big boost off the bench from Chasity Selden who had 10 points at the break, the Pirates were able to keep it close at 39-35 at halftime.
Lane was able to build up a nine-point lead at 48-39 midway through the third quarter but after Peninsula responded with an 8-0 run, the game remained close until the final buzzer with players from both teams making big shot after big shot. Neither team held a lead of more than four points down the stretch. There were 14 lead changes and 13 ties.
The injuries starting racking up. First, Adam Kaganak had to leave the game with a finger injury. Millie Long injured an ankle and had to come out. Chasity Selden struggled with a leg injury. They all returned but were clearly affected by their injuries.
With 8:13 left in the game, disaster hit for the Pirates as their leading scorer and dominant post player Ituau Tuisaula landed awkwardly and went down with an ankle injury. It was severe enough she had to be wheeled off the court, though she came back later to watch the end of the game in a wheelchair. Fighting swarming triple teams all game from Lane’s big inside players, Tuisaula finished with 14 points, 15 rebounds and four assists.
Crumb said Tuisaula remained on crutches Sunday and will be visiting a doctor today to be evaluated. She said everyone on the team stepped up and did a great job to try and make up for her loss.
Even Coleman went down for a time with an apparent leg injury as the game started feeling like a Rollerball-esque battle of attrition.
The Pirates were down 58-56 when Tuisaula left the game but they rallied and actually dominated the offensive boards at times. Jenilee Donovan had one of her best games of the year for the Pirates. She hit a 3-pointer with six minutes left, then another trey with 3:59 left to give the Pirates a 66-63 lead. She finished with four 3-pointers, shooting 4-for-5 from range, for 15 points.
Lane was able to respond with Coleman doing much of the damage down the stretch and the Pirates found themselves down 73-70 with 31.3 seconds left. Kaganak hit a pair of clutch baskets, the first a layup with 19.4 seconds left. After Lane made a pair of free throws to make it 75-72, Kaganak nailed a clutch 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime at 75-75.
It was a high-scoring overtime with the teams combining for 32 points in the extra five minutes.
Selden hit a 3-pointer and a basket in overtime, but the Pirates found themselves down 88-85 with 34 seconds left. Donovan hit a pair of free throws to pull the Pirates to 88-87, but Coleman responded with a quick layup with 21.7 seconds left to make it 90-87.
With 6.3 seconds left, Selden was fouled by Lane attempting a 3-pointer. She calmly hit three straight free throws to tie the game at 90-90. It appeared the game was headed to a second overtime, but Coleman was clutch again for Lane, hitting a layup with two seconds left to make it 92-90. A desperation 3-point try by Long at the buzzer was no good.
Long, playing on one ankle much of the game, finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Donovan finished with 15 points and Kaganak 12. Tati Kamae had nine points and 13 rebounds. Selden led the Pirates with 25 points off the bench.
Crumb said if the Pirates had won Saturday’s game, she wasn’t sure what shape they would have been in for the NWAC championship game Sunday with all the injuries.
“I’m really not sure we would have survived another game,” she said.
The women finished with a record of 22-5 and a North Region championship. It was the second straight year the Pirates lost a heartbreaker in overtime at the NWAC Final Four.
“I told them ‘thank you,’ after the game. They’re such a great group. It sucks it had to end. I’ll miss them,” Crumb said.
It was the last Pirates’ game for Port Angeles product Long. She is moving on to play soccer and basketball for Cal Poly-Humboldt, in Arcata, Calif. It was also the last game for Tuisaula, Kamae, Kaganak, Gina Brown and Ruth Moss.
Lane 92, Peninsula 90 OT
PC 15 20 15 25 15 — 90
Lane 18 21 15 21 17 — 92
Peninsula (90) — Selden 25, Long 15, Donovan 15, Tuisaula 14, Kaganak 12, Kamae 9.
Lane (92) — Coleman 26, Daniels 20, Hamel 19, Scheppele 15, Dahlin 5, Ball 4, Cooper 3.