Titans hit the wall in title game loss

03/11/2015 09:44

Down to seven players, Lane loses lead and then the NWAC championship game

By John Howard

For The Register-Guard

KENNEWICK, Wash. — A month before the tournament was scheduled to begin, the Lane Community College women’s basketball team didn’t know if they’d even qualify for the Northwest Athletic Conference championships in March.

They were just 4-4 in Southern Region play, and had been battling injuries and illness.

But the Titans made a run, winning down the stretch of the regular season to make the playoffs and battle their way to the sixth NWAC title game in program history.

Lane came in looking to set a league record with their fifth championship, while their opponent, Peninsula, was looking for their first. Peninsula was able to out-shoot the tired and worn-down Titans in the second half, going on a big run to come from seven points down to lead by as many as 13 before winning 85-75 on Tuesday.

Lane coach Greg Sheley said he was proud of the way Lane played at the end of the season despite the adverse situations they found themselves in throughout the year.

“Coming into the tournament, I think we were probably playing our best basketball,” Sheley said. “Four games in four days with eight players and then seven players, it’s just really hard.”

Less than five minutes in, the Titans lost that eighth player and a big piece of their interior defense when Marikah Wright collapsed after jumping for a rebound. Wright fell to the floor as play continued around her, grabbing at her brace-clad right knee in pain. Wright did not return.

Lane had been in the midst of a 9-3 run when Wright went down, and extended their lead to 13-5 before Peninsula responded and eventually led 36-32 at halftime.

“Losing a body, that definitely hurt us but they’re a real good team,” Sheley said. “They took advantage of that. They got in foul trouble too, we just couldn’t take care of it tonight, just defensively. They shot the ball much better than they have all season. We were kind of banking on that, that they weren’t going to be able to do that.”

Peninsula led by as many as six points in the opening moments of the second half, but surrendered a 13-0 run that put Lane in control 53-46 with 11:28 to play. But the Pirates knocked down three three-pointers to regain the lead. In that same stretch, post Jordan Kimbrough picked up her fourth foul and was forced to sit while Peninsula continued to put distance between the two teams.

Jacia Jointer led the Titans with 20 points, and Kimbrough finished with 18 points, a game-high 17 rebounds and a first-team all-tournament spot.