MONTESANO — Stifling first-half defense and Denise Curley-Bear’s brilliant fast-break game lifted Taholah to a 64-38 district finals victory over Naselle Thursday, Feb. 14. The Chitwhins held Naselle to just eight first-half points.

Due to the unusual structure of the District IV 1B girls’ basketball bracket, the loss forced Naselle into a loser-out game against Columbia Adventist for the second District IV slot at regionals.

Both offenses were quiet in the early minutes, but Taholah gradually came out of its slump. Curley-Bear had three layups late in the first quarter as Taholah led 14-2 after one.

Taholah’s physical defense thwarted the Lady Comets. The Chitwhins’ aggressiveness did put Naselle at the free throw line, as they committed eight of the game’s first nine fouls. But Naselle shot just four of eight from the line in the first half. For Taholah, Curley-Bear had 12 of her 18 points in the first-half. All her first-half points came on layups, as she thrived on the run in the open court. Taholah had an overwhelming 30-8 lead by halftime.

Nettie Mail’s fade-away three made it 39-11 midway through the third quarter, and Taholah soon stretched the lead to 30. Mail scored from inside and out, getting 15 of her 22 points in the second half.

Jackie Steenerson had a strong game off the bench for Naselle. She blocked a shot underneath the basket in the first half, and scored nine points in a seven-minute span starting late in the third quarter. Peyton Dalton stole a pair of in-bound passes as Naselle chipped away at the lead, getting it down to 19 a couple of times, but Taholah won by 26.

Right before the Comets’ game, Columbia Adventist had beaten Mary M. Knight on the same court in a match-up of district semifinal losers. By winning that game, Adventist earned a Saturday contest against Naselle for second place in the district, with a trip to regionals on the line.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or aaroncmead@gmail.com.

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