Desirae Hansen wanted to develop killer instinct in the offseason.
She felt like she needed to take over games when it was required.
Rarely are results from offseason effort this tangible.
Hansen scored all 27 of Rainier’s second-half points as the Columbians rallied past rival Clatskanie for a 46-44 girls’ basketball win on Friday in Rainier.
“She’s a player,” Rainier coach Doug Knox said. “Good players step up like they’re supposed to.”
Trailing 32-23, Hansen went on a 7-0 run by herself, hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 33-33 and then drove inside and earned the foul, sinking the free throw to make it 36-33.
With 1:04 remaining and trailing 44-42, she called an isolation for herself and drove to her right before fading away for the off-balance bucket. Her teammates forced a turnover, and seconds later, she did the same thing to her left.
In the course of 30 seconds, the Portland state commit and the Columbians went from two points down to two points up.
Olivia Sprague fired a 3-pointer at the buzzer that fell short, and Rainier walked out of its home gym victorious and the frontrunner for the Lewis and Clark League title.
“She has a green light for just about everything,” Knox said of the late isolation for Hansen. “Desi, she can do those things.”
And to think, Hansen started the game 0 for 10 from the field, and had just two first-half points. She finished with 29 points on 9-25 shooting, and added 20 rebounds.
“If I got the shot, I’ll take it,” Hansen said. “If I don’t, my teammates got my back. You got to trust them; that’s who you’re playing for.”
To Clatskanie’s credit, the newcomer to the Lewis and Clark title race put Rainier on the ropes time and time again.
It started early, when Olivia Warren played stifling defense on Hansen in the first half.
Shelby Blodgett chipped in 19 points and 12 rebounds, but fouled out late. It prompted Warren to take over once again, and the senior point guard made a clutch basket to make it 39-38 and hit three free throws to push the lead to 44-42.
“To be honest, I thought it was one of the best games she’s played this year,” Clatskanie coach Dawn Warren said of her daughter’s performance. “Guarding Desi, that’s a high school player guarding a Division I guard. I thought she did a great job.”
Blodgett’s absence late in the game, and Sprague’s uncharacteristic shooting performance (1 for 11 from 3) opened the door for the Columbians, who happily took it with a couple key turnovers late in front of a frenzied gym filled to the rafters.
“I told the girls before it started, ‘This is going to be the game you remember,’” coach Warren said. “It was fun. It’s fun to have people coming to girls’ games. And it’s fun to have people cheering for them.”
Of course, all great games have to have controversy. Sprague’s final 3-point attempt at the buzzer was contested, and the official raised his hand to signal a foul before opting not to call it and sprinting off the court for the end of the game.
“I thought she was fouled. We’ve all seen Sprague shoot. She doesn’t shoot like that unless an arm comes across her,” Warren said. “But it’s part of the game. It is what it is — heartbreaker.”
Still, the thriller shouldn’t go down in controversy, as it provided one of the most intriguing matchups of the 2017-18 season, and one with high stakes. Rainier now moves to the front of the title race at 8-0, while Clatskanie sits at 7-1.
“Everybody got their money’s worth on that one,” Knox said.
The two meet again in Clatskanie for the regular-season finale.