Free-throw shooting, coach and daughter echoed, can either lose or win championships. In the case of the latter, the charity stripe was what determined Okanogan’s second straight State 2B girls basketball championship and 56th straight victory.
The Bulldogs outlasted Napavine 60-51 in a thriller befitting worthy title aspirants.
Okanogan trailed just twice, early the game and 21-20 in the first minute of the second quarter. The team led by as many as 12 points with fewer than three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But the Tigers made a charge to within 53-50 with just over a minute left on a pair of free throws on a foul that sent Bulldogs scoring leader Jill Townsend to the bench with her fifth.
Forced to foul, Napavine sent its foe to the line, Jordyn Boesel in particular. Okanogan made seven of eight free throw attempts to stave off the upset bid.
“Down the stretch we were pretty much money,” coach Bryan Boesel said.
All told, Okanogan (27-0) made nearly 80 percent of its free throws (22 of 28) to offset a smothering Napavine (24-4) defense that held the Tigers to just 34.8 percent from the field.
Boesel scored nine first-quarter points, but didn’t score again until hitting two free throws in the third quarter and finished 11 for 12 from the line with a team-high 18 points.
“All year we had one goal in mind, get here and get that gold ball again,” Jordyn Boesel said. “It was good to play in this kind of situation. It showed our true colors. I’m really proud of my team tonight.”
Townsend, a 24-point per game scorer this season, fouled out after tallying 17 points, mainly playing on the block down low.
“I know I shouldn’t have gotten that last one,” Townsend said. “I’m a little bit disappointed I couldn’t come out on the court and finish.”
Boesel sank 5-of-6 free throws, the miss coming on her last attempt.
The teams went back-and-forth in the first half, led by the thrust and parry by the tourney’s stars, Melissa Lee and Townsend.
Lee would end with a game-high 22 points divided between each half and 13 rebounds. Townsend scored a dozen of her total in the first half when Okanogan built a seven-point lead, watched it disappear only to go back up by 10 late in the second quarter.
Napavine trailed 44-32 in the third quarter, but never-say-die defense and efforts by Lee, Grace Hamre and Mollie Olson made for a nail biter before Jordyn Boesel bailed Okanogan out at the line. She finished with a team high 18 points. Cayden Diefenbach, one of Okanogan’s three seniors, added 15 points and 10 rebounds, scoring the game’s final two points at the line.
“You know, and I even told our team this,” Bryan Boesel said. “Napavine had nothing to lose coming into this game. They came out and they just played hard. We had everything to lose with this streak right now. In the end we got them.”