MONTESANO — The bleachers filled despite the hail and snow that fell outside for the rival double-header Bulldogs versus Eagles, girls and boys basketball games. First on the court were the boys’ varsity in a 1A Evergreen match-up, in which Elma was looking for its first season win and Montesano was out to solidify its team despite some injuries.
In a tightly challenged first half, the boys played to a virtual standstill, matching each other basket for basket. But at the end of the night, the Bulldogs would rally in the third period and carry it through to the end for a 57-50 victory.
Montesano grabbed the tip and first points as the rivals sped back and forth down the court. A fast-paced game drew a total of 21 points between the two teams in the first period, Elma taking the slight edge. Sharpshooter Elma Eagle Ryan Collin hit back-to-back three pointers that rallied the Elma team and drove them ahead. Collin would make a total of 19 points for the Eagles, matching Bulldog Kenny Roy, who had a run of 13 in the third quarter and opened up the game for the Bulldogs.
“The first half was a little uncharacteristic for us in the way of turnovers,” said Montesano coach Doug Schupabch. “But in the second half we were able to take advantage of some opportunities that had been there in the first half.”
The opportunity that the Bulldogs latched onto was the ability to have an unattended man down court and drive a few fast breaks for points. Roy was the recipient in a number of the breaks and led the Bulldogs to outscore Elma 22-4 in the third period.
“Turn the ball over and don’t get back on defense,” was the initial quote from Elma head coach Marvin Prince. Elma has had its issues in solidifying the team, but is getting closer to a win.
“I am proud of the way the boys came back and held on in the final period,” Prince said.
The Eagles, down by 17 going into the final quarter, hit first with the final Collin three-pointer. Eagle Chance Bremer had a solid performance in the final quarter and led the Eagles in rebounds with 12. Bulldog Layne Bruner, scoring one point shy of Roy with 18 on the night, brought down 22 rebounds for the Montesano team in the game but went scoreless in the fourth period.
The Montesano lead was slowly getting chipped away as the Eagles performed well from the foul line, going five for six in the fourth period. Montesano had only a couple free throw opportunities and shot 45 percent from the line with the Eagles hitting 50 percent in the game.
With the Eagles closing the gap, the final minute lasted for close to three, as both teams try to maintain control of the ball for the final ticks of the clock, knocking the ball out of bounds multiple times. At the buzzer, the Bulldogs maintained their lead taking the win over the Eagles, 57-50.
Montesano takes on Tenino at home on Dec. 21 and then readies for the Raymond tourney scheduled for Dec. 28-29.
The Eagles look to be on a break until after the New Year when the face Rainier in a double header at home on Jan. 2.