MONTESANO — On the last day of school winter break, the Bulldogs hosted Hoquiam for a girls and boys basketball doubleheader on Jan. 4. The 1A Evergreen League games resulted in wins for both Hoquiam teams. In the boys game they controlled the court and in the girls game they came from behind to win.
Montesano 39, Hoquiam 61
Starting the night of hardwood action, the boys of Montesano faced the continuing challenge of height against their opponent, Hoquiam. Grizzly 6’6” post Cole Smith set the pace for Hoquiam, netting 20 points from the floor and grabbing 18 rebounds. Bulldog post, Layne Bruner, shorter than Smith by a mere two inches, was able to loop a couple shots over the Hoquiam player but was held to 14 points, leading the Bulldogs in scoring. In the battle for the position under the basket, Hoquiam was in control and was able to convert their offensive misfires into points.
By the end of the first period, the Grizzlies were up by 10 and rode that lead the rest of the way.
“We executed the game well, not a lot of turnovers, but we just can’t seem to get the ball in the hole,” Bulldog coach Doug Schupbach said.
Shooting just 13 percent in the first half, the Bulldogs did improve their game in the second, but still could not get the effective rebounding to provide additional opportunities to score.
Matching the Grizzlies in buckets in the second period, the Bulldogs gained a single point on the visiting Hoquiam team, but were still down by nine.
Montesano scored in single digits in the first and third periods and Hoquiam created offensive opportunities to slowly distance themselves from the Bulldog pressure.
The Grizzlies had three players in double digits. Besides Smith, senior guards Ronnie Espedal had 12 and David Sandstrom had 10. Montesano post Kenny Roy had 8 for the Bulldogs, and the team saw low numbers from the guard positions. Back from injury status, Ben Ohashi looked good helping run the Bulldog offense, but was unable to generate any points for the team in his limited play on the court.
Halfway into their season as January crests the New Year, Montesano will be stacked with games in the following weeks. The extended football season created a tight schedule and the Bulldogs, now at 5-5, will have the remainder of the month to put more wins on the board and find the offensive rhythm they need.
Bulldogs 30, Grizzlies 34
A tighter game was deployed by the girls, as the Bulldogs faced a literal tug-o-war with the visiting Lady Grizzlies.
At the conclusion of the first eight minutes, the teams were deadlocked at 11. The Grizzlies were able to double up the Lady Bulldogs in the second period, and take a slight 5-point lead coming off the floor at the half.
“We just became timid,” coach Julie Graves said of her Lady Bulldog team, “players that had opportunities just did not take the shot.”
Montesano, 2-3 in league play, had just come from Forks, where they had seen a similar defensive strategy.
“We saw this at Forks and did OK there,” Graves noted.
At the half the Bulldogs were focused on controlling the next quarter of play to gain back the ground they had lost, and did just that. Holding the Hoquiam squad to only two points in the third period allowed them to not only catch up, but take the lead by three coming into the final period of play.
The Grizzlies brought out the zone in the final quarter and stopped the Montesano offense cold. Bulldog Megan Choate, who had just dropped in 6 points in the previous quarter to lead the come back for Montesano, was stalled in the fourth. The Hoquiam defense was so effective that the Bulldogs went scoreless up to the final minute of play. Four Grizzlies were able to hit from the floor in the fourth quarter, Chelsy Stewart, adding two to her total 10 points, leading the game (along with Bulldog Choate, who also had 10). Tiffani Dhooghe contributed four, along with Ellie Quercia and Olivia Rose who both managed a basket, allowing Hoquiam to control the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs have managed the final minutes and even seconds of close games well, and it looked like they might just pull another one out when Justine Nuckols dropped in a three-pointer with 11.6 seconds left in the game, and the first Bulldog points of the period. With the gap closing, another late game opportunity came when Mackinzie Malizia was awarded three shots from a flagrant foul, but was only able to hit one. Unable to manage any additional time in their favor, the clock ran out as the Grizzlies held the ball for the win.
Even with the loss coach Graves cited Choate for her intensity on the court. Choate was credited for three assists, 10 rebounds and four steals, along with her 10 point total.
The Lady Bulldogs will be back home on Jan. 11 to face Rainier and will be on the road for three games, finishing with Elma on Jan. 23.