SPORTS: Neah Bay girls basketball dominating

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NEAH BAY — The Neah Bay girls basketball team is in the middle of another banner season.

The Red Devils, who have been one of the best 1B teams in state for five years running, are currently 9-1 and rarely have to break out a sweat against area competition.

During one recent stretch, Neah Bay gave up just 21 points in two straight games.

The Red Devils held Crescent to seven points in a football-like score of 61-7 a week ago and then beat Clallam Bay 52-14 on Friday night.

In games on back-to-back days, they most recently dominated Lummi 61-23 on Saturday.

The Red Devils lost just two players to graduation from last year’s 1B state fourth-place team, Cherish Moss and Rebecca Thompson, and will lose only one player from this year’s team to graduation, senior Merissa Murner.

They have not lost a step despite losing the North Olympic League’s offensive MVP in Moss and the league’s defensive MVP in Thompson.

The Red Devils have placed fourth in state two consecutive years and before that placed eighth three straight years from 2008 to 2010.

Ironically, Neah Bay’s only loss this year came to its past self, in a sense. The Alumni team, made up of recently graduated Red Devils, including Moss and Thompson, beat the current Neah Bay team 55-52 earlier in the season.

Otherwise, no team has come close to beating the Red Devils.

The closest game was a 62-50 win against 1A Forks about two weeks ago.

Frustrating schedule

It can be frustrating for a state-caliber team — one that has placed in state for five consecutive years — not to have strong competition week-in and week-out during the regular season.

“The most frustrating part of that for me and the girls are that the starters are not being challenged like we need to be challenged,” first-year head coach Nate Tyler said.

But on the other hand, there is some good news to go along with the bad news.

“Our first-year players are getting a lot of playing time,” Tyler said. “We’re building up our young kids.”

That is not good news to other teams, especially considering that most of Neah Bay’s current starters aren’t even upperclassmen yet.

Expect the Red Devils to reload with top talent for years to come.

Defense is what propels the Red Devils, who are holding opponents to an average of just 18.8 points per game. The most points they have allowed is the 55 the Alumni team scored.

Neah Bay starts each game with its patented man-to-man defense, which coach Tyler lets up on after the game begins to get out of hand and the younger players hit the floor.

Offensively, the Red Devils average in the 60s per game with junior Cierra Moss, Cherish’s little sister, the top offensive weapon.

Cierra, a point guard, scores an average of about 19 points per game.

“She’s our floor general, for sure,” Tyler said.

Cierra Moss scorched the nets for a game-high 21 points in the Alumni game.

The core of the starting team is three sophomores, including Kaela Tyler, the coach’s daughter, Hailey Greene and Faye Chartraw, who is a fearsome post player.

Team scoring is well balanced behind Moss’s 19 points per game with Kaela Tyler averaging about 10 and Hailey Greene shooting between six to 10 every contest.

The Red Devils are still winning big despite not having Greene on the team the past week.

Hailey Greene, who has a strained arm, is expected to miss at least one more week before joining the team.

Chartraw, meanwhile, rules the boards and averages 14 rebounds per game. It’s not uncommon for Chartraw to record a double-double, including 13 points and 13 rebounds against Lummi on Saturday.

“Faye is a good all-around player,” Tyler said.

Another strong post player to watch is sophomore Blaire Hill, who comes off the bench.

“Blaire is coming around,” Tyler said. “She is a pretty decent person coming off the bench, getting rebounds, steals and blocked shots.

“She’s a good all-around player for being a big kid.”

There are two other keys to Neah Bay’s success.

“We have good overall team speed and we have good veteran play,” Tyler said.

Murner, the team’s lone senior, is one of the veterans leading the team.

“She’s somebody that the younger kids look up to,” Tyler said.

“Merissa and Cierra lead a great group of veteran girls for our newer girls to jell with.”

Now if only the Red Devils could find a team to give them a strong challenge to help them prepare for state in March.

Last modified: January 15. 2013 11:53AM
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