In an electric atmosphere, the Tigers abandon the Premier League game to the Chinooks

By Alec Dietz / [email protected]

NAPAVINE — The matchup between two powerhouses, the two teams that met last spring for a district championship in Napavine was everything it was meant to be.

Each blow answered with another uppercut, blow after blow, but in a physical clash between Kalama and Napavine on Friday night, the experiment flourished.

The Chinooks, led by Jackson Esary’s 15 points, 11 rebounds, eight steals and three blocks, once again triumphed over the upstart Tigers, 57-50.

“It’s like a district tournament game,” Tigers coach Rex Stanley said. “They are won or lost in the last four minutes, the competition is so tight. It was like that.

Napavine hung around with a hotter Chinooks team, shooting a small deficit to just three with less than three minutes to play, but an 8-1 run for the Chinooks, mostly caused by Napavine turnovers, finally brought the Tigers.

The Tigers (7-2, 3-1 C2BL) had 16 turnovers and the Chinooks scored 21 points on those errors.

“They’re a quality team, shots are hard to come by and we haven’t had a lot of second ones,” Stanley said. “It’s just one of those games. It seemed like every time we were there we either missed a shot or turned it over. That was the game.”

James Grose led the way for the Tigers with a season-high 20 points on 8-of-22 shooting with three shots deep, while Keith Olson wasted 17 points and 15 rebounds and Jarin Prather hit three treys and scored 13. They were the only players to score for Napavine.

On the other end, Esary filled in the stat sheet, but Max Cox scored a team-high 17 points with three marks from range, and Dylan Mills scored 15 points to go along with Esary’s 15. Esary shot 7 of 20 from the field, with his primary defender being the much shorter Cael Stanley.

“He did a great job, when you guard Esary it’s not just one on one, it was a collective effort,” said Rex Stanley. “For the most part I think we did a good job, it’s just tough coverage.”

But in the final moments, with the game on the line, Kalama’s senior six won big, and the Chinooks turned it over half as much as the Tigers throughout the game.

The Tigers won’t have long to think about it, as they travel to Willapa Valley on Saturday to take on the Vikings in a non-league game.

“The good thing about this group is we have guys who play multiple sports, they understand,” Stanley said. “They’re getting where we’re headed and where it’s really going to matter. We’re coming back tomorrow, which I like. We head to Willapa Valley tomorrow and try to improve tomorrow.

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