2B Girls Basketball: Mossyrock Can’t Keep Up With Experienced Mules in District Finals

Mossyrock’s Payton Torrey leaps for a layin against Wahkiakum on Saturday at W.F. West High School. (Rob Hilson / For The Chronicle)

REGIONAL BOUND: Merz Leads Wahkiakum to Second-Straight District Championship With 51-33 Win

By Aaron VanTuyl

For The Chronicle

Wahkiakum was defending its trophy and playing in the District 4 2B Girls Basketball Tournament championship game for the third time in four years.

Mossyrock, despite an impressive four-game district run, was playing in the Saturday night game at W.F. West High School for the first time in over a decade.

The Mules’ edge in the experience department couldn’t help but show up on the court. Wahkiakum never quite let Mossyrock’s offense get comfortable in a 51-33 victory to win its second-straight District 4 championship.

Both teams will advance to the regional round of the state playoffs, scheduled for next Friday and Saturday.

Jansi Merz scored 17 points, and the Mules made the most of 19 Mossyrock turnovers to run away with the trophy.

“I think their defensive aggressiveness kind of got us out of our game plan. They’re always very energetic in their games,” Mossyrock coach Autumn Moorcroft said. “I told the girls coming out, with the momentum of a championship game, we have to figure out how to stay composed. And at times, it got away from us.”

The Vikings went 4 of 23 from the field in the first half, but were still within striking distance (26-14) at halftime.

Mossyrock players jet towards a loose ball while Wahkiakum’s Jansi Merz tries to reach it from the ground. (Rob Hilson / For The Chronicle)

The Mules’ energy, however, carried over into the second half. Freshman Reigha Neimeyer, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the second frame, opened the third quarter with a triple to spark a 10-0 Wahkiakum run, and the Mules closed the third on a 7-0 run to lead 43-22.

Neimeyer finished with 11 points. Point guard Paige Mace added 10 points for Wahkiakum, which went 21 of 51 from the field and 6 of 22 from long range.

Mossyrock, meanwhile, went 10 of 45 from the floor. Andee Nelson led the way with 13 points and eight rebounds, and Caelyn Marshall added 12 points.

The Vikings started three freshman in Saturday’s game, which was Mossyrock’s first appearance in the finals since 2007.

“I think there was a lot of pressure there,” Moorcroft said. “The nerves get all over the place, so I think that definitely could have played a factor with age, and figuring out that leadership role there.”

Nelson and fellow senior Faith Mulligan both showed strong leadership, Moorcroft added.

Mossyrock (20-5) will enter regionals as one of the bottom eight seeds. Their regional opponent should be finalized on Sunday, and they’ll need a win in that regional game to reach the 12-team state tournament.

“It’s a bummer to lose this one, but it would have just been icing on the cake to win it,” Moorcroft said. “Now we’ve just got to focus on winning that regional game and getting that spot to Spokane.”

Wahkiakum (18-4) will also have its regional opponent finalized on Sunday, but the Mules will be one of the top eight seeds and will advance to Spokane regardless of their regional outcome.

At Chehalis

MULES 51, VIKINGS 33

Mossyrock 6 8 8 11 —33

Wahkiakum 11 15 17 8 —51

Mossyrock (33) — Mulligan 2, Torrey 6, Nelson 13, Marshall 12

FG: 10 of 45 —.222 FT: 8 of 15 —.533 Reb. 26 (Nelson 8)

Wahkiakum (51) — Mace 10, Merz 17, Niemala 2, K. Watkins 2, Lietz 9, Niemeyer 11

FG: 21 of 51 —.412 FT: 2 of 4 —.500 Reb. 29 (Merz 9)

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