The Montesano girls basketball team faced their first test Saturday and they passed.
After making quick work of host Raymond 63-21 on Friday, the Lady Bulldogs had their work cut out for them in a 46-36 win over Morton/White Pass on Saturday in the Raymond Coed New Year’s Classic.
Montesano (6-0, 2-0) traded baskets with the Lady Timberwolves early on and ended the first quarter tied at 10, but in the second quarter the Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a 10 point lead at halftime. Unlike every other opponent this season that have allowed Montesano to cruise to a victory by more than 15 points, MWP fought back and with just over six minutes left in the game they cut the lead to one point, 33-32.
Coach Julie Graves called a timeout and told her players to make sure to be patient.
“Don’t force things if they aren’t there,” Graves said in an interview afterward. “Just be patient and move the ball and at some point there is going to be an open shot and somebody has got to take it. We were patient and I don’t think we rushed. We used the clock and defensively we worked hard.”
Montesano scored the next four points and took control of the game once again. With less than a minute to go in the game, the Lady Bulldogs hit four of their last six free throw attempts to seal the victory.
“We kind of struggled during the third quarter because we didn’t really shoot well or make a lot of points, but we worked as a team and came out with a win,” Senior Megan Choate said.
Choate was the second highest scorer for Montesano with 14 points behind 22 points from freshman Jordan Spradlin. Spradlin recorded a double-double with 21 rebounds in Saturday’s game and was also the leading scorer with 17 points on Friday.
“I thought the kids did a great job of just playing our game and not panicking,” Graves said. “It was a close game and we haven’t had a close game yet this year so I thought they did a good job of competing for the entire 32 minutes and taking what they gave us.”
Montesano has used a full-court press defense to create turnovers and frustrate most of its opponents so far this season, but the Lady Timberwolves were able to move the ball smoothly against the press. The Lady Bulldogs instead stifled MWPs efforts in the half court using Spradlin to help to defend any player who drove the ball into the paint.
“We knew the person she was guarding was not their primary offensive threat so I just let her help off in case one of the other kids dribbled in and she could be a presence and be willing to take a charge if needed,” Graves said.
Montesano never trailed in the game and remains undefeated after the victory. For Graves the two games over the weekend were a positive experience to challenge the Lady Bulldogs.
“Having today was a good test just to see what would happen in a close game,” Graves said. “I’m proud of how the kids handled it today.”