The Clatskanie girls have been staring up at that banner all year. The black and white flag hangs directly above the home basket at Bryan Linn Court, and it shows just two girls’ basketball teams have won league titles in the program’s history.
Add 2019 to the list.
The Tigers (14-4, 9-0 league) fought off Warrenton 57-47 on Friday to secure the program’s first league title in 24 years.
“It’s great for the girls,” coach John Blodgett said. “I was proud of the girls and their perseverance.”
But the Warriors certainly didn’t make it easy. They blistered to a 24-15 lead behind some hot shooting and strong defense in the first quarter. For a team that’s won its league games by an average of 40 points per game, the pressure mounted on the Tigers as the deficit increased to 12.
“We knew there was a lot at stake,” Blodgett said. “We’re not used to being down sometimes, and sometimes they try to do a little too much. That was the halftime speech: ‘We just got to relax.’”
They narrowed the gap to three by halftime, and Shelby Blodgett took over in the second half. She finished with team-highs of 17 points, 11 rebounds and eight steals. But it was the supporting cast that kept Clatskanie kicking.
Like Kaity Sizemore, who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Knowing she would have looks with Warrenton keying in on Blodgett and Olivia Sprague, who finished with 12 points and four assists, Sizemore headed to the gym Thursday night. She put up 150 mid-range jump shots.
It proved to be crucial Friday night.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Sizemore said. “As a whole, we work really hard and work really well together. I think that’s what earned us the league title.”
Alexis Smith added 12 points and five rebounds, as the Tigers took the lead back with six minutes in the third quarter, traded it back once, and then cruised to the close.
Clatskanie boys 56, Warrenton 25
Deshaun Combs yelled it from the sideline: “Keep having fun. Keep having fun.”
Combs certainly was; the ear-to-ear smile across his face telling the story of the Coastal Range League victory Friday night.
“When we’re not having fun, we’re not playing well,” he said afterward. “When we’re having fun, we’re really hard to play with.”
And the Tigers had a blast Friday. Cooper Blodgett had 13 points to lead all scorers and the Tigers cruised to a 26-11 halftime lead. Shortly into the third quarter, the outcome was obvious.
But this game was just a minor respite in the grind that’s coming down the stretch. The Tigers (11-7, 7-2) have to win their final three games to capture the league title. That includes a potential championship showdown in the regular-season finale against Rainier.
“They know what they need to accomplish,” Combs said. “They know they need to take care of business.. … But if it comes to it, it’s going to be a really fun game here.”