Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Neah Bay’s Tristin Johnson, left, and Kayla Winck, right, compete for a rebound with Tulalip Heritage’s Myrna Redleaf during the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s playoff game at Port Angeles High School.                                Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Neah Bay’s Tristin Johnson, left, and Kayla Winck, right, compete for a rebound with Tulalip Heritage’s Myrna Redleaf during the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s playoff game at Port Angeles High School.

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Neah Bay’s Tristin Johnson, left, and Kayla Winck, right, compete for a rebound with Tulalip Heritage’s Myrna Redleaf during the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s playoff game at Port Angeles High School. Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Neah Bay’s Tristin Johnson, left, and Kayla Winck, right, compete for a rebound with Tulalip Heritage’s Myrna Redleaf during the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s playoff game at Port Angeles High School.

TRI-DISTRICT GIRLS BASKETBALL: Neah Bay topples Tulalip with late rally

By Pierre LaBossiere

Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — For Neah Bay, 22-14 is a meaningful score lately.

In last year’s state 1A semifinal against rival Lummi, the Neah Bay football team fell behind 22-14 before turning the game around and rallying for a dramatic 28-22 win.

On Thursday, in their Tri-District 1B playoff game against Tulalip Heritage, the Neah Bay girls basketball team struggled early from the floor and on the boards and fell behind 22-14 early in the second half. That was Tulalip’s biggest lead of the game as the Neah Bay girls stormed back in the third and fourth quarters on a 28-16 run to win 42-38.

It was a tough, hard-fought win with big contingents of enthusiastic fans chanting and cheering on both sides. Tulalip and Neah Bay were evenly matched on paper and they wre pretty evenly matched on the court. The Hawks came into the game with the same 17-3 record as Neah Bay and was ranked No. 13 in the WIAA’s RPI, while Neah Bay is ranked No. 10.

The win sends the Red Devils to the state regional round, and if two teams in the RPI top eight lost in district play, Neah Bay also will advance to the state tournament in Spokane regardless of how they play in their regional matchup. If not, the Red Devils must win win their regional to make it to state.

Neah Bay (18-3) struggled from the floor early. Coach Tony McCaulley, who also coached the football team last year and saw that same 22-14 score first-hand, said the girls’ two-week layoff really showed early with the poor shooting.

McCaulley also said the team didn’t rebound well early.

“We addressed it at halftime, they were killing us on the boards,” he said.

“We hadn’t played for two weeks, we came out pretty slow,” said point guard Gina McCaulley, who scored 10 points and hit some crucial free throws in the fourth quarter.

She said the key to overcoming the rough start was to “stay positive and keep our energy up. We play better with our energy up.”

Tristin Johnson had a huge game for the Red Devils. She scored 17, 10 of them in the fourth quarter, including a critical 3-pointer that turned the game around with 4:30 left in the game.

“It was hard to have two weeks off,” she said.

“We just realized we wanted it. We woke up,” said Johnson of the team’s fourth quarter rally.

Johnson said making the state tournament was a goal of the team all year.

“This is my senior year, we all want to make it to state. We’ve all been working for it,” she said.

After falling behind by eight early in the third quarter, the Neah Bay girls clawed back, doing a better job of pounding the boards and going on a 9-1 run to tie it at 23-23. Cheyanna Svec hit a 3-pointer, Johnson had a rebound and putback for a bucket and Cei’J Gagnon hit a basket during that run.

However, the Hawks responded by opening the lead back up to five points at 28-23 behind their two big guns, Deandra Grant and Keryn Parks. Grant, a strong post player, gave Neah Bay trouble all game on the inside. Parks ended the game with 14 and Grant 13.

Svec ended the third quarter by hitting a bucket right at the buzzer to cut Tulalip’s lead down to 28-25. All of her five points came in the third.

The Red Devils were still down 34-32 when Tristin Johnson changed the game with a clutch 3-pointer with 4:30 left in the game to give Neah Bay its first lead since early in the first quarter.

Johnson added two more buckets and a big blocked shot, one of her four blocks in the game, in the final minute as Neah Bay fended off Tulalip down the stretch. Johnson accounted for all of the Red Devils’ field goals in the fourth as Neah Bay was able to go to the line 17 times in the fourth quarter, making 10 from the charity stripe.

Vonte Aguirre added seven points and 10 boards for Neah Bay.

The girls get another long layoff. Their state regional game will be played Friday or Saturday against an opponent to be determined.

Neah Bay 42, Tulalip 38

Tulalip 7 13 8 10 — 38

Neah Bay 7 7 11 17 — 42

Tulalip (38) — Parks 14, Grant 13, Redleaf 7, Jones 4.

Neah Bay (42) — Johnson 17, McCaulley 10, Agguire 7, Svec 5, Gagnon 3.

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