Almira/Coulee-Hartline entered the 1B state title game undefeated and favored.
But you still have to play the game.
Neah Bay (22-3) handed the Warriors (25-1) their first loss of the season in a 70-49 slaughter in the State 1B boys title game at the Spokane Arena on Saturday. The Red Devils showed just how little records matter in winning their first state title in school history.
“Hats off to them,” ACH head coach Graham Grindy said. “They forced a lot of self-imposed errors that aren’t very characteristic (of us).”
The first quarter was played at a frenetic pace and Neah Bay was the beneficiary. Eight turnovers helped put ACH in a 19-7 hole by the end of the quarter.
“We were caught by surprise a little bit,” Grindy said of the Red Devils’ start.
But the Warriors responded with a 17-6 run in the second quarter and cut the Red Devil’s lead to one. A layup from Rweha Munyagi and a pair of free throws from Cameron Buzzell put Neah Bay up 29-24 going into halftime.
At the start of the second half, the Warriors once again were careless with the ball (six turnovers) and struggled with the Red Devils’ on-ball pressure. Neah Bay outscored ACH 21-7 in the first six minutes of the third quarter, and finished the game on a 13-4 run.
“We peaked at the right time,” Neah Bay coach Stan Claplanhoo said. “We were playing the best we’ve been playing.”
Turnovers plagued ACH throughout the game.
“We knew they didn’t have a lot of ball handlers, we knew they only had one guy (Dallas Isaak),” Neah Bay senior guard Ryan Moss said. “We knew if could contain him, we could force turnovers, control the game.”
Ryan Moss led the balanced Red Devils’ scoring effort with 15 points. Guard Kenrick Doherty added 14 points – including the Red Devils’ first 10 of the game – and grabbed six rebounds and five assists. Rweha Munyagi chipped in 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting.
Dallas Isaak led the Warriors with 18 points on 6 of 18 shooting. Payton Nielsen had a game-high 12 rebounds.
Coming into the game as the underdogs gave Neah Bay motivation, according to Claplanhoo.
“After watching the bottom bracket, we were tired of hearing we got the sweet draw all the day through,” he said. “We were saying ‘we could play with any of these teams.’ ”
Neah Bay silenced the doubters with its first title.
“Our community is gleaming tonight,” Claplanhoo said. “We’ve been coming here a long time, yet this is our first state basketball title ever. These kids, they made history tonight.”