MONTESANO — The Montesano High School boys basketball team was dealt a crushing conference defeat when a last-second second shot attempt rolled off the rim as time expired in a 70-68 home loss Friday, Jan. 25, to Forks.
The Bulldogs (11-8, 5-2 Evergreen 1A) had the ball with about 15 seconds to go when they called a timeout to run an inbound play. Sam Winter took a 3-point shot that drew iron allowing Forks to come away with the rebound, which forced Montesano to foul.
The Bulldogs got their second chance to push the game to overtime when the Spartans missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Tanner Nicklas grabbed the rebound of a missed free throw and sent an outlet pass to Trace Ridgway. Ridway sprinted down the floor, split the defense and rose for a potential game-tying layup, but the ball rolled off the front edge of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Monte head coach Doug Galloway said the final play was one of many that could have changed the outcome of the game.
“We had a great look at the end and it is what it is. Trace Ridgway had a great game for us,” he said. “That shot did not lose that game for us. There were 100 other plays where we could have been better. We missed about 10 layups in the last two minutes. What about those 10? This stuff just happens.”
The Spartans (14-4, 5-1) suffered a cold stretch in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter but got off to hot start in the first.
Forks had 22-12 lead by the end of the first quarter and got nine points in the opening period from Seth Johnson, who ended the night with 27.
Johnson found success with his jump shot and contributed cutting to the basket throughout the contest.
Galloway said he was impressed with the energy and hustle Forks showed on both ends of the floor.
“They were very aggressive at the basket,” he said. “They’re active offensively and defensively. They get their hands on a lot of basketballs defensively and they get a lot of extra opportunities on offense.”
Monte started getting more of its jump shots to fall in the second quarter and got back to within striking distance down 41-40 going at halftime. Ridgway was a big part of the second-quarter surge with nine points including two 3-pointers.
Monte stayed hot going into the third quarter and ended the period with a 59-56 lead before falling short in the fourth quarter.
Though the result did not go his way, Galloway was pleased with the way his team shot the ball.
“I’m proud of them. They put up 68 points, they held them to no points for almost two minutes at the end of the game and the kids played hard,” he said. “Forks was really hot in the beginning and things like that happen sometimes.”
The loss puts Montesano in second place behind Forks in the Class 1A Evergreen League with one more league game to go. The Bulldogs will close out the regular season at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at Elma.
Monte will need to beat Elma and have the Spartans lose to either Elma or Hoquiam in its last two games of the regular season for the Bulldogs to capture a league title.
Galloway wasn’t too discouraged by the loss and expects Forks to be one of the teams to beat when the district tournament tips off on Feb. 7.
“Forks has only lost four games all season. It’s not like it’s a fluke that they’re winning. They have a good methodology and they consistently play well,” he said.
Montesano 57, Tenino 37
Montesano’s staunch defense came through in a game where the offense struggled to get into a flow in the Bulldog’s win over Tenino on Tuesday, Jan. 22, in Menlo.
The Bulldogs found ways to jump in passing lanes early. Monte racked up eight steals in the game and defended well in the half-court, allowing only one Beaver to get into double figures.
Bulldogs head coach Doug Galloway was happy to pick up the league win on the road but was disappointed with the lack of energy on offense.
“I didn’t think we had very much energy tonight,” he said. “It didn’t feel like we brought the energy, and it was kind of a lackluster game. But I’m happy we can have a lackluster game and still get a win.”
One player who Galloway thought provided a spark was Trace Ridgway. The sophomore guard came off the bench and scored a game-high 12 points for the Bulldogs.
Ridgway said scoring wasn’t his primary goal and that he was more focused and energizing his teammates.
“When I’m watching the game from the bench, sometimes I’ll think we’re not crashing the boards hard enough or that we need to get more rebounds,” he said. “I just tried to go out there and try to excite my teammates, go hard and maybe get some points.”
Montesano struggled at times putting the ball in the hoop, but Tenino (10-7, 1-5) had an even more difficult time putting points on the board.
The Beavers’ best offensive quarter came in the second, when they put up 11 points.
Coming out of halftime with a big lead, Montesano was further lifted by Tanner Nicklas in the third quarter, where he scored six of his eight points.
Galloway was pleased to see his team build a first-half lead and is hoping the energy will improve.
“At some point in time, our opponent is ourselves,” he said. “We have to get better each and every time. We had some sickness going through our program and stuff like that, so hopefully it was just an anomaly.”
Tenino 54, Elma 41
Tied entering the third quarter, Elma’s chances at snapping a 12-game losing streak vanished as the Eagles were outscored in the final period, losing to Tenino 54-41 on Friday, Jan. 25, in Tenino.
“They had a big fourth quarter and we struggled to score,” said Elma head coach Jeff Niemi, whose Eagles were outpaced 19-6 in the final period.
Elma (1-17, 0-6 Evergreen 1A) outrebounded Tenino (11-7, 2-5) 36-24, but the Eagles committed 10 more turnovers than the Beavers (22-12) and were outshot at the free-throw line by a wide margin. Tenino hit 14-of-27 from the charity stripe while the Eagles made 1-of-6.
“We dominated on the glass but committed too many turnovers on poor passing,” Niemi said. “We have to find a way to get to the line more, as we have been tripled up by our opponent. Not sure why we don’t get to the line like our opponents do, but it’s up to us to adjust.”
Elma was led by Sam Schneider, who scored a team-high 15 points on 5-of-8 from the 3-point line.
Brady Johnston added seven points while Cody Vollan chipped in six points and a team-best 15 rebounds for the Eagles.
Elma played Forks at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday at Forks High School, but the game ended too late to make this edition.