Maybe Napavine could have beaten Kwinn Hanson before his Northwest Christian teammates got involved in the State 2B boys basketball championship, but there’s no question the Crusaders won their seventh state championship because of him.
Hanson scored 21 points, including all 17 the Crusaders had in the first half, and anchored the defense in a 41-32 Northwest Christian victory over the Tigers Saturday night at the Arena.
“Losing wasn’t an option,” the 6-foot-5 junior said. “I mean it just wasn’t going to happen. If I had to take it in my hands to win, it was going to happen.”
Napavine (23-4), in its first title game appearance, scored the first basket in both the first and second quarter for their only leads, 2-0 and 9-8. Both times Hanson answered. He had a 17-15 lead at halftime on 8 of 11 shooting.
“Unbelievable,” Northwest Christian coach Ray Ricks said. “I’ve never seen that happen before. Our game plan was to try to get the ball inside. He just came out ready to play. It was just a big, big boost for us.”
It’s a good thing because his teammates were 0-10 in the first half. Napavine wasn’t faring much better, making just 26 percent of its shots.
“Hanson’s first half just killed us,” Napavine coach Rex Stanely said. “Their length gave us problems for sure. We had a hard time getting anything offensively and that was definitely a factor.
“Our defense is always solid, it’s just that offensively it was so hard, which is a credit to Northwest. We really couldn’t score enough to keep up with them.”
Rueben Clark, a 6-6 junior, was the first to crash the Hanson party, scoring the first six points of the third quarter when the Crusaders (25-2) started to pull away.
“I figured at least someone else would score sometime,” Ricks said. “We had to battle pretty hard for the baskets. They were hawking Cole Ramey pretty hard but the guards stepped up and hit some big shots.”
Northwest was only up three after Clark’s quick points but Ramey knocked down the Crusader’s only 3-pointer. Then sophomore guard Dakota Winward hit a bank shot and it was 30-22 after three quarters without Hanson contributing any points.
But he had the first four points of the fourth quarter as Northwest pushed the lead to 10. He finished 10 of 15 shooting with nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
“He’s actually scored 45 in one game, ACH last year,” senior guard Jon Williams said. “He’s really great to play with.”
Clark and Ramey scored seven points and Winward six for all of the Crusaders’ scoring.
Colton Brown and Reece Stanley each had 10 for Napavine, which shot 27 percent for the game.