You could say it was an off night, a fluke or just dumb luck; but what was certain at the Northwest League basketball playoffs last weekend is that this game is unpredictable.
Both the boys and girls basketball teams played in their respective league playoffs last week, playing three games and experiencing a few highs and lows. The girls were seeded at the No. 5 slot to start the playoffs, meaning they had to travel to face the Faith Bible Falcons in Hillsboro on Feb. 13. The Lady Pirates had split the season series with the Falcons, so the grudge match was set up to be a heated battle, and indeed it was. In a low scoring affair, NKN prevailed for a first round win with a narrow 26-24 score.
The win advanced the girls to a second round matchup with league leader and eventual champion Portland Christian on Feb. 14. The red hot Royals proved to be too much for the Lady Pirates, as Portland Christian prevailed 53-28.
Although they fell just short of the championship game, Neah-Kah-Nie did have the chance to play in the consolation game at Vernonia High School Feb. 16 against City Christian. In another game in which both teams had won a game in the season series, this one looked to be all City Christian early on. In the first quarter, the Lady Lions had their offense rolling, knocking down three-pointers and getting NKN in foul trouble. After the first quarter, City led 17-8. The second was another rough quarter for the Pirates, and they found themselves trailing 32-18 at halftime.
However, the Pirates seemingly flipped the switch after the break and ratcheted up their defense. In fact, the NKN defense was so stout that it allowed just two points, coming on free throws in the final minute of the third quarter. Offensively, the Pirates were led by senior Brianna Woodward, who knocked down a pair of jump shots to flip the momentum in NKN’s favor. Despite the strong defense, the Pirates still trailed 34-26 going into the fourth.
In the fourth, NKN’s foul trouble finally began to catch up to them, resulting in a heap of City free throws. Unfortunately, the Lions were able to convert them and ended up taking the 41-31 win to claim third place. The Lady Pirates season came to an end with a 11-12 overall record and 9-7 in league play.
The boys opened up the league playoffs with a big win over the Portland Christian Royals on Feb. 12 by a score of 68-51. The win set the Pirates up with a second round game against Knappa, a team they had lost twice to early in the season.
Even though the first two contests were not very competitive, the Pirates showed some fight when they traveled up the coast on Feb. 14. A spirited effort was not enough however, and the Loggers won their third straight of the season over the Pirates, by a score of 56-46.
Although the loss put the Pirates in the consolation game against the Gaston Greyhounds at Vernonia High School last Saturday, NKN still held the No. 14 ranking, meaning a win would set them up for an at-large bid into the state playoffs. With nothing to lose, the Greyhounds played undoubtably their best game of the season.
The rowdy Gaston fans that made the short trip to the game seemingly fueled the ‘Hounds in the first quarter, as they cruised to a 17-9 advantage.
Gaston kept that same energy in the second and started to stretch their lead. Just as Gaston was looking to run away with the game, NKN’s Destin Donaldson hit a big three-pointer in the final seconds of the quarter to trim the lead to single digits going into the half.
Their momentum however did not seem to carry over into the second half, as the Greyhounds continued to score at will and the Pirates could not string together enough buckets and saw the deficit balloon to 50-29 by the end of the third. The large lead for Gaston allowed them to cruise to an easy victory, winning 69-45.