Titans race past Penguins for title

03/14/2016 10:56

By Brian Adamowsky | For The Register-Guard

EVERETT, Wash. — The Lane women’s basketball team avenged its loss to Peninsula in the 2015 NWAC championship game in clinical fashion on Sunday night, beating the Pirates 76-59 at Everett Community College to capture the program’s fifth title since 2006.

The Titans (32-1) placed five scorers in double figures and had an answer for every run Peninsula made in the game, leading the whole way.

Shelby Snook, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after the game, led the way for Lane with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Snook scored 17 of her points after halftime as the Pirates (25-6) had to adjust their defense after Lane’s Gabby Heehn torched them for six three-pointers in the first half.

“Teams have been coming out and hugging Gabby all year, and that just opens up lanes for Shelby to drive,” said Lane coach Greg Sheley, who has guided the Titans to all five of their championships. “We just kept attacking that gap in the second half.”

An illustration of Lane’s depth and selflessness: Heehn scored 18 points on the six three-pointers in the first half, and attempted just one shot the rest of the game.

“Teams can’t just shut down one player against us,” said sophomore Bre DuBois, who joined Snook on the all-tournament team, along with Jordan Kimbrough and Mallory Shields. “We have a deep bench, and we’ve all had off-nights, but there are plenty of people who can come in and get buckets for us.”

Heehn’s first-quarter explosion allowed the Titans to build a 29-19 lead, but the Pirates narrowed the lead to 32-28 with six minutes left in the first half on the strength of their own long-range shooting.

Peninsula made 7-of-16 from beyond the arc in the first half to keep the game manageable, but couldn’t maintain that success after halftime. The Pirates went just 2-for-17 from deep in the second half to finish right at their season-average 27 percent clip.

The Pirates opened the second half on a 5-0 run, and a three-pointer by Cierra Moss cut the Titans’ 10-point halftime lead to four with six minutes to go in the third quarter, but that’s as close as Peninsula would get.

Snook took control in the second half, just as she did in Lane’s overtime victory over Wenatchee Valley in Saturday’s semifinal. She drove the lane at will against a Peninsula defense that was plagued by foul trouble all game, and was able to score on her own, dish to a teammate or get fouled.

Snook drained a dagger three-pointer with 5:40 remaining in the game to push an eight-point lead out to 11, and made five free throws in the final two minutes to seal it for Lane.

The Titans mixed up its defenses between man-to-man and matchup zone throughout the game to frustrate Peninsula. The Pirates got 22 points from Imani Smith and 21 from Moss, but no other player had more than six.

“They run a lot of short-corner stuff and a lot of baseline stuff, so we just had to communicate a lot on defense,” DuBois said. “We knew they were going to make their runs, but we really wanted to get this done. It feels really good and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to share it with.”