Knappa rolled out the red carpet Thursday night for the No. 1-ranked girls basketball team (Faith Bible), and their own No. 1-ranked boys team in a Northwest League doubleheader.
In the opener, the Knappa girls nearly stunned the top-ranked Falcons, who held off the Lady Loggers for an eventual 52-43 win.
“You have to believe in our league that on any given night, you can get the win,” said Knappa coach Tracie Brockey, whose team was even without three potential starters. “Faith Bible lost to Vernonia on Tuesday and Vernonia nearly lost to Nestucca tonight (38-36).”
In addition, Mannahouse Christian beat Vernonia, but only narrowly escaped a loss to Nestucca, and Nestucca squeaked by a low-ranked Columbia Christian team by three points last month.
“As I’ve told our girls, we will never be able to walk into a gym and expect a win without fighting for it,” Brockey said. “We are a team that will have to set the bar high and bring our ‘A’ game every night. No one gets a night off in our league.”
Including the top-ranked Falcons, who found themselves locked in a 12-12 tie after one quarter, and led by just 21-20 at halftime.
“Our girls were focused,” Brockey said. “We set small goals throughout the game, related to limiting their second chance opportunities, limiting fast breaks, keeping the game within reach, and we accomplished much of that in the first half.”
Knappa outscored Faith Bible 10-8 in the fourth quarter, but it was a 23-13 run by the Falcons in the third that decided the game.
The Loggers were without Hannah Dietrichs, Aiko Miller and Vicki Ramvick.
Sophia Carlson picked up the slack, scoring 19 points, with 13 rebounds and five steals.
“She was mentally locked in, hitting shots in rhythm and finishing free throws (5-for-7),” Brockey said of Carlson. “Raven Corcoran also recorded a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds). She and Megan (Hellberg) were huge for us tonight. They came out fighting for rebounds.”
Which resulted in 33 offensive rebounds alone, and four players in double-digit rebounds for the Loggers. Madelynn Weaver had 10 boards.
“While we didn’t get the win, I felt like as a team, we put together a more solid game tonight than we have the rest of this season,” Brockey said. “Of course we have a lot of growing to do and areas to improve upon, but if nothing else, it proved to them that they can compete with anyone, even the No. 1-ranked team in the state.”
Neah-Kah-Nie 42, Loggers 36
Knappa returned to Northwest League action Tuesday night, only to suffer a 42-36 loss at Neah-Kah-Nie, which snapped a six-game losing skid.
“It was a tough evening for us,” Knappa coach Tracie Brockey. “While we forced turnovers with our press, we also gave up easy baskets and couldn’t finish at the rim. Had we finished even a fourth of those close range shots, we’d have won the game handily.”
Knappa freshman Katelynn Weaver was asked to pressure the ball most of the evening defensively, and still found offensive opportunities to finish with a team-high 17 points, to go with six steals and two blocks.
“Raven Corcoran also came out strong tonight,” Brockey said, commanding some big rebounds and finishing with at least seven boards. “While we had the lead at half, Neah-Kah-Nie outscored us by 10 in the third quarter.
“Our girls’ mental toughness was tested,” she said. “We rallied back from a 15-point deficit with 4:39 left in the game to close it to within four points with 28 seconds left.”
A basket by Neah-Kah-Nie’s Eve Turner was the final score of the night.
“Anytime we seemed to get some momentum, Neah-Kah-Nie would put together a run,” Brockey said. “They have a young program, but played confidently tonight. You hate to lose ball games you feel you should win, but I am hoping we all learn from it — coach included — make adjustments, and are ready for a rematch at our place (Jan. 31).”