Published December 29, 2009
Navigators wake up, winAARON WASSER; For The Olympian
LACEY - The Northwest Christian boys began the Christmas holiday basketball tournament with chips on their shoulders, having lost the tournament last year for the first time in the program's 12 years. Late free throws and key fourth-quarter buckets were the difference Monday when the Navigators set off toward redemption with a 51-48 victory over Orting in the first round of the two-day tournament. After taking a three-day break from the court, the Navigators (6-2) struggled through the first half, scoring 15 points on 5-for-22 accuracy from the field. “I was expecting them to come out rusty, and they did,” Northwest Christian coach Rick Fox said. “But I was happy with the boys’ mental toughness, hanging tough and fighting through that.” The Navigators were better after halftime. Junior Brian Chase scored seven of his nine points in the third period to keep the Navigators close (2-4), trailing 30-29 entering the fourth quarter. The teams traded the lead five times from then until senior Robbie Groeschell scored on an assist from Airick Owens to put the Navigators up 39-36. From there, Northwest Christian made 10 of 13 free throws to take control. “There was definitely a little bit of rust,” said Groeschell, who scored nine points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. “Eating all that food, travel, illness and bumps and bruises, we definitely felt all that for a bit. It was great for us to be able to fight through and win.” Northwest Christian’s strength down the stretch was Orting’s bane. The Cardinals missed 10 of their 15 free throws. “When you can’t make your free throws after working so hard that really deflates your sails,” Orting coach John Miller said. Northwest Christian, a Class 2B school, is a win away from reclaiming the tournament crown that got away last season. “There’s definitely a tradition here when it comes to this tournament,” said Owens, who had a team-best 11 points. “It’s our home, our court and we want to win it.” The Navigators and Tenino, a winner over Rainier Christian, will meet for the title today at 6 p.m. NW Christian girls cruise The Northwest Christian girls put on an offensive and defensive clinic at the expense of Orting, tearing up the visiting Cardinals, 56-26, in the Northwest Christian Christmas Tournament. Junior Joanna Sowers had 12 points and senior Alysha Fox had 10 to lead the Navigators (7-1). But it was defense that really stood out for the Navigators, who outscored the Cardinals (3-5) in the second quarter 18-1. In fact, Orting managed only one field goal attempt in the quarter and went 1-for-2 from the line for its point. “We have those quarters when we defend that way once in a while,” said Navigators coach Ron Collins, who saw his team make 13 steals by halftime. “We try to take the best part away from them and we try to play our offense and we executed both parts tonight.” The Cardinals tried to run their offense through post Mykaelynn Powers, who was good when she got the ball, scoring nine points on 4-for-5 shooting. But the rest of the Orting squad managed just five field goals in 30 attempts. Northwest Christian will go for the tournament crown at 4 p.m. today against Tenino, a winner over Rainier Christian.