MONTESANO — Blowout victories were on the menu for Montesano’s boys and girls basketball teams in a district doubleheader on Feb. 8.
Tanner Nicklas scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Bulldog boys thumped Stevenson, 82-46, in a District IV Class 1A tournament opening-round contest at Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.
Scoring 22 successive points in the first half, Monte’s girls had an even easier time disposing of Stevenson, 66-19, in the first half of the co-ed twin bill.
The Bulldog boys (17-4) faced King’s Way Christian in a semifinal on Feb. 13 at Hoquiam Square Garden. With a victory there, Monte will assure itself of a regional berth — its first post-district outing since its last state appearance in 1982.
Montesano’s girls (15-7) fell to La Center on Feb. 10, 61-39. They were scheduled to play Hoquiam in a loser-out game on Feb. 14.
Because of the differing formats for the boys and girls tournament, Montesano’s girls would not clinch a trip to regionals with a win. But the Bulldogs did escape the loser-out opening round and will be among four teams battling for two regional berths.
Neither Montesano team trailed Thursday. Montesano’s girls invoked the 40-point running-clock mercy rule midway through the third quarter. Monte’s boys were up by 38 early in the fourth quarter, but a sensational display of long-range shooting by Stevenson reserve Bennett Wright (who scored all 13 of his points in the final period) prevented the 40-point threshold from being reached.
Montesano 66, Stevenson 19
It hardly appeared that mercy-rule finish would be in the offing after the opening 3 1/2 minutes.
Beating Monte badly on the offensive glass (although not converting the putbacks), Stevenson trailed only 6-4 at that stage — prompting Montesano coach Julie Graves to call a quick timeout.
Although Graves later said she only emphasized the importance of blocking out on rebounding, Montesano’s Bulldogs (Stevenson has the same mascot) caught fire in every aspect of the game.
Getting transition baskets off turnovers and finding the open woman underneath with regularity. Montesano settled matters with its 22-0 spurt. Glory Grubb came off the bench to contribute nine points during that spurt, which ended with Monte owning a 28-4 bulge with 6:53 remaining in the second quarter.
“After the first three minutes, the defensive intensity picked up and we played a lot better defense,” Graves said. “And we transitioned better than we have been lately.”
Although not playing in the fourth quarter, sophomore post Zoe Hutchings paced Montesano with 17 points and eight rebounds. Grubb scored all 12 of her points in the first half, while junior guard Lexi Lovell also had a dozen points. Senior Haylee Perkinson, another reserve, led Monte rebounders with nine.
Graves was particularly happy with the way her team shared the ball. Katie Granstrom collected five assists and six steals, while Samantha Stanfield (who set up Grubb for consecutive baskets during the decisive spurt) was credited with four assists and five steals.
Zoee Lisherness also had eight rebounds for Montesano’s Bulldogs.
Montesano 82, Stevenson 46
Monte’s Bulldogs employed a two-pronged method of slowing down a high-scoring Stevenson club (10-11) that had entered the game with several 80-point outings to its credit.
Its half-court defense limited the visitors to 25 percent field-goal shooting. Perhaps even more important, Montesano’s Bulldogs thwarted Stevenson’s plan of getting quick transition points off its press.
Shredding the press for a slew of layins, Monte committed just seven turnovers (only three in the first half) and eventually forced the visitors to call off their press.
“The first thing was we didn’t want to commit turnovers against their 1-2-1-1 press,” Monte coach Doug Galloway said. “I was really proud of how the kids handled it. We had a good idea of what they wanted to do offensively and they battled and executed the game plan.”
The 6-foot-5 Nicklas, attacking the rim relentlessly, was a major force in Montesano building a 45-24 halftime lead. He scored the game’s opening two baskets before Trevor Ridgway put down a 3-pointer for a 7-0 advantage with the game less than 2 1/2 minutes old.
Ridgway scored 13 points, while senior teammate L.J. Valley tallied all 13 of his points in the second half. Shaydon Farmer added 12 points and eight rebounds for the winners.
Montesano’s passing excellence was reflected in the final statistics. Twenty of Monte’s 32 field goals contained an assist. Ridgway led Bulldog playmakers with eight, while Valley and Sam Winter handed out four apiece.
Stevenson 11 13 5 17 — 46
Montesano 25 20 20 17 — 82
Stevenson (46) — M. Hall 3, Krog 14, Hobbs 6, Van Pelt, Hoidal 9, Wright 13, Webb 1, Lanz, B. Hall, Lowery, Blackledge, Z. Miller. FG — 12-49 (.245). FT — 17-27.
Montesano (82) — Ridgway 13, Nicklas 23, Winter 7, Farmer 12, Valley 13, Dierkop 6, Parker 3, Albert 2, Bates 3, Johansson, Wyatt, Iverson. FG — 32-69 (.463). FT — 11-15.
Stevenson 4 5 2 8 — 19
Montesano 21 24 12 9 — 66
Stevenson (19) — Emerson 2, Rathgeber 4, A. Campbell 2, O’Mahoney 3, P. Campbell, MacNab 1, Schupbach, Morat 2, Brannan 5, Scheratski, Backlund. FG — 8-56 (.143). FT — 2-4.