EVERETT— A historic season came to a disappointing end for the Grays Harbor College women as they ran out of gas down the stretch in their season-ending loss to Big Bend.
The 70-59 loss brings about an earlier-than-expected end to the Grays Harbor season, as the Chokers were eliminated in the first round of the NWAC tournament on March 8 at Everett.
Big Bend’s Vikings closed out the game with a 21-3 run to overcome a GHC lead in the fourth quarter.
Grays Harbor head coach Chad Allan was upbeat despite the result and gave credit to Big Bend for making it hard on the Chokers’ top scorers.
“Some nights, things just don’t work right,” he said. “We had some good things that were happening in spurts, but there weren’t enough spurts. You have to give credit to Big Bend for putting the pressure on us.”
Typically well-balanced Big Bend had four players score in double figures, led by Hailey Garity’s 19 points.
Sophomore forward Alexia Thrower closed out a tremendous GHC career by scoring 25 points. Sandin Kidder added 18 for the Chokers.
Both teams stumbled out of the gate offensively with the score staying tied at four until halfway through the first quarter.
The Chokers didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard, but some successful drives to the basket and some timely free throws gave them a narrow lead heading into the second quarter.
Both teams picked up the pace in the second and third quarter, but the Chokers could never quite pull away, even with Thrower having another impactful game driving and finishing at the rim.
The Chokers were nursing a a small four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter before Big Bend’s pressure defense was starting to get to Grays Harbor’s ball handlers.
The Vikings began employing a half-court trap defensively late in the third quarter that made setting up the offense a challenge for a Choker team that had been afflicted with hit-and-miss shooting for most of the game.
Unfortunately for the Chokers, the shooting was more miss than hit in the fourth quarter when they only scored six points while Big Bend dropped 21 on them to close out the contest.
The shot selection didn’t appear to be as much of a problem as much as bad luck. Several shots from Angela Sikora and Katie Brisbois that normally go in rattled in and out while the deficit grew larger.
Long-range shooting was a problem for every Choker on the floor, with the team going 0-14 on shots from beyond the arc.
Allan said his team tried to stick to the game plan when things looked bleak for them in the final minutes but noted it was difficult to do so without being able to build any momentum of their own.
“We started kind of tightening up and feeling the pressure a little bit and doing some uncharacteristic things a few times but we were still trying to battle and stay in there,” he said. “Big Bend was capitalizing on some things, and they had the energy and momentum going their way.”
Allan also hinted that he may make finding a good rebounder a priority going into next season. Playing without a true center throughout the season, the Chokers were outrebounded Thursday, 52-46.
While he seemed content to appreciate the accomplishments of this year’s team, Allan said this season is going to lay the groundwork for what the program does in the future.
“We’ll have momentum going into next season from what we’re accomplishing at Grays Harbor,” he said. “Tonight was just one of those nights, but it was a night. It doesn’t nullify the 25-2 record we had coming into this, and the win streak and the first league title ever. There are a lot of accomplishments that don’t get nullified by just one loss.”
Big Bend 9 17 23 21 — 70
GHC 11 18 24 6 — 59
Big Bend (70) — Martinez 13, Garrity 19, Dougherty 16, Johnson 11, Gronning 8, Allan 3, Bishop. FG — 29-74 (.392). FT — 5-18.
Grays Harbor (59) — Brisbois, Wilson 6, Thrower 25, Sikora 4, Kidder 18, Sunchild 1, Hernandez 5. FG — 27-73 (.370). FT — 5-8.