SPOKANE, Wash. — It was deja vu for Naselle.
Coming into the WIAA state basketball game against Almira-Coulee-Hartline, the Comets could be forgiven for remembering the last football season. The Warriors had unceremoniously trounced Naselle 82-28 in the 1B semifinal.
Thursday, without any pads and helmets, the same student athletes from ACH won 54-37 to advance to the basketball semifinals.
The loss doesn’t end Naselle’ season, however.
Next up is a 2 p.m. game Friday against Oakesdale, with the winner advancing to a consolation final to determine fourth- and sixth-place trophies.
Naselle had reached the second round of this week’s tournament with a 54-51 win over Garfield-Palouse, a victory which caused Comet fans to bite their nails through the fourth quarter.
Thursday’s matchup started with some promise. ACH defenders began the game crowded around their basket, allowing senior Jacob Eaton, junior Corey Gregory and senior Cole Dorman to sink consecutive 3-pointers.
Each swish was followed by roars from the loyal Naselle cheering section. That joy, and the Comets’ small lead, did not last long, however. ACH had clawed back to lead 14-13 as the quarter ended.
The seventh-ranked Warriors have five players above six feet tall and their physical presence soon kicked in. Last fall’s quarterback nemesis, senior Maguire Isaak and freshman Reece Isaak — who is two inches taller than Maguire — were simply commanding.
After lengthy back-and-forth action with no scoring, ACH combined field goals and free throws to steadily move ahead to a halftime lead of 28-16. After the break, another senior, Hayden Loomis, a mere 5-11, seemed to be able to score from any position to move the scoreboard to 47-26 with eight minutes remaining.
The fourth quarter saw Naselle add 11 points, but by then the deficit was too large. Eaton was team high scorer with 14 and Dorman had 10. For ACH, Reece Isaak had 18, Loomis nine and Maguire Isaak eight.
Naselle head coach Brian Macy acknowledged that the early success with three open three pointers might have caused some complacency in his squad. “They are a good basketball club. I knew it was not going to be easy,” he said. “We just couldn’t get anything clicking. We were not getting the sets that we wanted to run.”
Oakesdale lost its second-round game to the Yakama Nation Tribal Eagles, 62-45. Macy said the Comets will be ready for the Nighthawks. “This team will bounce back,” he said.
The other side of the consolation bracket will feature Riverside Christian and Odessa.