Northwest Christian girls basketball coach Rick Thomas viewed the game as a barometer, an indication heading into the postseason of how well his Navigators stack up against the state’s Class 2B elite.
Despite the loss, Thomas can say his squad can compete with anyone from here on out.
Abby Maneman scored 15 points as league-leading Raymond pulled away to beat Northwest Christian, 49-40, in Pacific 2B play Saturday in Lacey.
“That’s a very good team we played tonight,” Thomas said. “I just wanted the girls to go out there and compete. I was very pleased with how we played. We’re going to be a third or fourth seed in the district tournament. Hopefully, we get to see them again.”
Megan VanMarter scored a team-high 10 points for the Navigators, while Emily VanMarter and Mackenzie Reeves added nine points each.
The Navigators (10-7 overall, 6-5 league) shook off a cold-shooting start — they missed 30 of their first 34 shots from the field and trailed, 42-36, with 2 minutes to play after Emily VanMarter made her third 3-pointer of the contest.
“We were right there at the end,” Thomas said. “We just needed to put a little more pressure on them defensively and take a few risks.”
A 3-pointer by Megan VanMarter cut the Navigators deficit to 29-26 to open a whirlwind fourth quarter.
Prior to the VanMarters heating up from long range — the sisters combined to hit five 3’s — Northwest Christian struggled to find a steady flow on offense.
“That’s been the story all year for us,” said Thomas, whose team shot 24.5 percent (12-for-49) from the field. “We’ve had difficulties on offense, but tonight I thought our shot selection was very good. We had good looks. We just didn’t hit shots. There are a lot of positives to take out of this game.”
Northwest Christian missed nine of its first 10 shots and turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter, but made up for the miscues with defense, forcing Raymond (18-1, 11-0) into 12 first half turnovers.
The Navigators went a chilly 4-for-29 from the field (13.8 percent) in the first half, but still led 13-12 with 31/2 minutes left in the second quarter after Allison Sowers made a pair of free throws.
The Seagulls closed out the half on a 7-2 run to take a 19-15 advantage into the intermission.
The run carried over to the second half as Raymond scored the first five points of the third quarter to take a 24-15 lead.
The Navigators will close out the regular season at Naselle on Friday.
“It’s a game that could very well have an impact on playoff seeding,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, we can carry over how we played tonight into that game.”
Northwest Christian defeated Naselle, 40-22, in the first meeting on Jan. 19.