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Rivalry gains more heat at State B

Mel McCarty, right, shares a laugh with her nephew, Roman McCarty, as they watch her sons, Dario and Hilario, play on opposing teams – Neah Bay and Clallum Bay. 
 (Holly Pickett / The Spokesman-Review)
Mel McCarty, right, shares a laugh with her nephew, Roman McCarty, as they watch her sons, Dario and Hilario, play on opposing teams – Neah Bay and Clallum Bay. (Holly Pickett / The Spokesman-Review)

It may not have been the game between the best boys teams, but it was clearly one of the best games of this year’s State B tournament: Neah Bay 58, Clallam Bay 57 in overtime.

Neah Bay had lost to its bitter rival two out of three times in meetings between the regular season and tri-districts. Then, on Friday, the Red Devils trailed 30-25 at halftime before coming back late in the game behind senior Robert Arnold.

“It was a classic Clallam Bay-Neah Bay game; it was just played 11 or 12 hours away,” said Clallam Bay coach John Wilson. “We battled all year with them and that’s the way it finished: Somebody had to win that game, somebody had to lose that game.”

Neah Bay coach Gordon Smith said the two schools’ rivalry is one of the oldest in the state. It is also one of the most heated. After the game, players from each team ended up taunting each other as they exited for their neighboring locker rooms. At one point, the coaching staffs had to separate a few players whose war of words were escalating into something more.

“This is the kind of game that we do three times a year: Emotions, physical, all that kind of stuff goes into this,” said Smith. “We just hung in there longer today.”

Arnold scored his team’s last five points in regulation, hit the game-winning shot on a putback with 11 seconds left in overtime, then stole the ball on Clallam Bay’s last possession to the end the game. He finished with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds. That effort was matched by the effort of Clallam Bay senior Danny Angulo, who sent the game to overtime and finished with a team-high 17 points.

“Big-time players come up with big-time shots,” said fourth-year coach Smith of the duo.

Arnold was still out of breath several minutes after the game, as he and his teammates celebrated wildly on the court and carried it into the locker room.

“It was the best shot I ever took, the best feeling ever. I don’t know, I can’t explain it,” he said.

The win guaranteed Neah Bay its first trophy since 1986, a fact that was not lost on the Red Devils’ coach or players. The Red Devils play defending champion Republic for fifth and eighth place today.

“It feels great, because of the 11 times we’ve been here we’ve only placed twice,” said Smith. He then paid tribute to his team’s fans, who followed the kids to every corner of the state – including roughly 450 miles for this one.

Senior Anthony Lawrence was the most animated on the team, egging on the crowd from the court, and leaving the court for high-fives with the team’s followers in the stands.

As an example of the depth and interconnectedness of these rivals, all of the members of the Neah Bay team and four of the Clallam Bay team are members of the Makah tribe of the Olympic Peninsula. But the most unique aspect of the rivalry is that brothers Dario and Hilario McCarty faced each other in the game.

The neighboring schools allow interdistrict attendance, so junior Dario decided to transfer to Neah Bay for this season. Meanwhile, his brother was in the lineup for Clallam Bay.

“It was just fun, I guess,” said Hilario. “It’s just what we do on (the playground).”

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Dario, “but it’s pretty hard for the mom. She has to root for both of us and try not to make us mad.”

The pair only scored two points amongst themselves, but mom was in the stands and watching intently.

Mel McCarty, the boys’ mother who is a Neah Bay graduate, said of the dilemma: “I just watch the game.”

Two against one hurts Kittitas

Thursday’s late girls quarterfinal between Sprague-Harrington and Kittitas ended in a bit of controversy.

Down 47-46 with 9.3 seconds remaining, Kittitas’ Ellen Cartwright cut into the lane and had her shot blocked by Falcons forward Stacie Shields. The call alone was questionable, but what happened next was downright confusing.

Two officials had the call as two shots for Cartwright. It was announced to the Arena crowd as a two-shot foul. But the third official came in and overruled the first two, saying he had the foul before the shot on a push. That instead put Cartwright on the line for a one-and-one, instead of the two shots.

She missed the front end, and amidst chants of, “Two shots! Two shots!” from the Kittitas supporters, the Falcons were able to hold on for the one-point win and a berth in the semifinals.

Kittitas head coach Scott Wilson handled the controversy with class.

“Two officials had it as two,” Wilson said. “But the third called it a one-and-one. But one call doesn’t determine the outcome. We could have made the free throws. They outplayed us. They were the better team.”

– Correspondent Chris Brown and Online Publisher Ken Sands contributed to this report.

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