COOS BAY — It is the match-up that, from the beginning of the Class 3A girls basketball season, we seemed to be destined to get in the final game. The Dayton Pirates, with a near clinical 55-31 semifinal win over Rainier, made that state championship game with Salem Academy official at Marshfield High School on a rainy Friday in March.
Sometimes in basketball you have to look for the “madness” in the details, rather than the buzzer beaters.
That being so, the Pirates put on a flat ridiculous performance in the first half against the Columbians.
Not only did they hold a team that scored 101 points just one month ago to 11 in the first half, but they did that while operating their own offense near peak precision and not recording a single turnover to that point.
Dayton coach Scott Spink said it was a great, overall, team effort.
“This morning in our walk-thru, we talked about our defense against Rainier’s offense and, you know, it’s about stopping Desirae (Hansen). She’s a great player and really our girls executed a great game plan defensively. Offensively, we told Kalina (Rojas) she would find herself open between the 3-point line and the free throw line and said just step up and hit it, and she did.”
Indeed, Rojas, in the first half, hit it again and again. She went off for all of her game-high 16 points in that first half, with 12 coming in the first quarter.
Dayton scored the final 16 points in the first to open a 16-1 lead.
The Pirates bring so many weapons to the table it can be a case of having to pick your poison, as Rainier coach Doug Knox knew coming in to the game.
He said the Columbians did a good job bottling up Dayton’s senior guard Shawnie Spink in the first half, only to see Malina Ray and Rojas score in bunches. Ray finished with 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and Spink got going in the second half to finish with 13.
“That’s what good teams do,” Knox said. “They have enough depth.”
Dayton took its 31-11 halftime advantage and never let it go. In fact, they expanded it with a 13-7 third quarter.
“We’ve been here before, so we know that the second half is so important and that usually a team will get a run at some point,” Rojas said. “So, the thing is to just control that run and not let them get any momentum.”
Consider that another mission accomplished for a team that has accomplished many. This will be the Pirates’ fourth straight year that they have ended their season with a title game in the Pirate Palace in Coos Bay.
“We’ve been there before and we know how to compose ourselves,” Shawnie Spink said. “If we just go out, drink water and eat healthy and relax, we’ll be okay.”
They also are facing a team they know well. Dayton has one loss, by two, to Salem Academy. However, they paid them back with a one-point defeat two weeks later. This game decides the season series, and who gets the blue trophy.
“(I’ll tell the girls,) Just go out and play relaxed,” coach Spink said. “Play our game. It’s four quarters of basketball and just keep on fighting until the end, and I think good things are going to happen.”'
Rojas said the Pirates are ready for any challenge.
“All season we have been saying that we practice so hard, because in hard situations you fall back on your training. And, that’s what we have to fall back on tomorrow, because we’ve worked hard for this.”
The Rainier Columbians, who were led by Reese Schimmel’s 9 points, will face Blanchet Catholic in the third place trophy game at 11:30 a.m.