Rainier’s Desirae Hansen had one heck of an 18th birthday, scoring a season-high 31 points and helping the Columbians to a Lewis and Clark 3A league title with a 46-38 win over Clatskanie on Thursday in Clatskanie.
Clatskanie (20-3, 14-1 league) plays Warrenton Tuesday at home in their league playoff opener, while Rainier’s (20-4,16-0) opponent will be determined.
The Columbians trailed 36-35 when the final frame started, but managed to climb out with an 11-2 run over those final eight minutes.
“I think that one is, not the most special, but definitely a special one,” Rainier coach Doug Knox said of the league title. “I don’t think anyone picked us to win this year.”
Hansen scored 11 points in the first quarter, offering up shots from anywhere she wanted, and all but one of them went through the net.
“Good way to spend (a birthday),” Hansen said. “It feels good, it always feel good to win. Our last game, Knox is the greatest coach in the world. He’s led us through this. All you have to do is believe in him and he’s let us do our thing.”
The compliments were reciprocated.
“I’ve had a few good players over the years, and she’s a special one for sure,” Knox said. “With her you go into every game knowing you have a chance to win.”
The mood wasn’t quite as upbeat on the other bench. Though Shelby Blodgett and Olivia Warren scored 12 points apiece, the Tigers couldn’t quite capitalize in the fourth quarter.
Still, they know their season was successful because their next season starts now, but it doesn’t numb the pain completely.
“You always want to win, you always want to beat Rainier,” freshman guard Shelby Blodgett said. “We want to play Rainier again.”
Clatskanie Boys 45, Rainier 25: Clatskanie nailed down the league’s fourth seed into the league tournament, and will host in the first round Rainier on Monday.
Fueled by Devon Jones’ game-high 15 points, the Tigers capitalized time and again, while the Columbians struggled to find a flow.
“They’ve been as hot as anyone over the last three or so weeks,” Clatskanie coach Ryan Svenson said. “We knew we were going to have to be really focused.”
Svenson noted the play of Ryan Watson, who scored six points with eight rebounds, as a pivotal element in the Tigers’ victory.
In a vacuum, both teams played well in spurts and sloppily at times. But it was evident these teams know each other very well.
“They’ve been playing with or against each other their entire lives,” Rainier coach Logan Nelson said. “It definitely had that feel.”