Montesano took a big step toward claiming a Class 1A Evergreen League title as the Bulldogs picked up a clutch 49-45 victory over the Elma Eagles on Jan. 21 in Elma.
In a gritty, physical game it was Monte that made the plays over the final eight minutes to pick up the victory. Down 33-31 entering the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs seized control of the game with a 9-0 run to open the frame and take a 40-33 lead with four minutes, 40 secons remaining.
Elma responded when Kali Rambo hit a three to cut the deficit to 40-35. But on the next possession, Monte regained a seven-point lead when McKynnlie Dalan did what keyed the Bulldogs second-half surge: Multiple offensive rebounds that turned into points.
Dalan grabbed Monte’s third offensive rebound of the trip, scored, was fouled and completed a 3-point play to give Monte a 43-36 lead with 3:35 remaining.
After another Rambo three made it a 43-39 game at the 2:41 mark, Monte’s relentless aggression on the offensive glass paid off yet again when Paige Lisherness grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to stretch the Bulldogs’ lead to 45-39 with 1:45 left on the clock.
But Elma refused to quit, cutting Monte’s lead to 45-42 on a Kayli Johnson 3-pointer 28 seconds later.
The Eagles quickly called timeout to set up its press defense, which Monte struggled with mightily in the first half.
Monte was ready for it. The Bulldogs were able to break pressure and scored on the break when Lisherness fed a perfect bounce pass to a cutting Cassadie Golding who hit the layup to make it a 47-42 ballgame with just over a minute left to play.
Johnson followed with her second, and Elma’s fourth 3-pointer of the quarter, to pull the Eagles within a bucket at 47-45 with 43 seconds on the clock.
But Elma’s inability to secure a defensive rebound against a taller Monte team proved fatal as Bulldogs center Zoe Hutchings grabbed two offensive rebounds before her putback pushed Monte’s lead to 49-45 with 34.7 second left.
Elma had its chances in the game’s waning moments, but the 3-pointers that kept them in the game earlier in the quarter failed to drop in the final minute and Montesano was able to secure a final rebound and run out the clock to pick up the win.
“In the first half, we struggled a bit … Elma is experienced. They are strong and physical and maybe we weren’t quite ready for that,” Montesano head coach Mark Mansfield said. “We talked at halftime that we needed to control what we could control. … We did a better job of coming to the ball, being stronger with it and attacking.”
“The rebounding just killed us,” Elma head coach Lisa Johnson said. “We didn’t go in and crash the boards like we needed to, and we didn’t box out to keep them off the glass. Two or three times, to let them shoot in there, you just can’t do it. … It’s just not going to work.”
Elma’s rebounding issues weren’t the only problem for the Eagles as they also struggled from the field. Elma shot just 23% on 14-for-60 shooting as the Eagles were forced to dial up long-distance shots against Monte’s 2-3 zone. The Eagles managed just one 2-point field goal in the second half.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well in the first quarter and couldn’t get anything to go in,” Johnson said, adding her team had far too many turnovers, which also contributed to the loss. “The reality is we got killed on the boards and didn’t value the ball enough.”
Monte was led by Hutchings and Dalan, each of whom scored 14 points to lead a Monte team that shot 21-of-55 from the field (38%).
“It’s McKynnlie Dalan’s birthday today so we gave her a little celebration,” Hutchings said of Monte’s post-game locker room festivities “This probably makes her birthday much better. … There was a lot of screaming, happiness and smiles.”
The win puts Monte in sole possession of first place in the 1A Evergreen League, but the Bulldogs acknowledge they haven’t won anything yet.
“This isn’t our peaking point,” Hutchings said. “We still have a long way to go from here. This gives us a lot of motivation to get better and put the grind in to get better every day.”
“We told them to enjoy this tonight,” Mansfield said. “I’m really proud of the girls. They’ve showed that mental toughness and poise that you hope for, and with as young as we are, we haven’t always seen it. It was nice to see it tonight.”
Wishkah Valley 43, Oakville 24
Brooke Haskey scored 19 points to lead Wishkah Valley to a 43-24 victory over Oakville on Friday at Oakville High School.
The Loggerettes’ Kelcey Bernhardy scored eight points and grabbed 18 rebounds, 11 of those coming in the first half.
Breanna Schmoe added eight points for Wishkah.
Maria Casihan scored 11 points for Oakville.
Mary M. Knight 41, Lake Quinault 37
Mary M. Knight’s Jadyn Davidson scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Owls to a 41-37 victory over Lake Quinault on Friday at Lake Quinault High School.
Kat Neeland had six points, 14 rebounds and seven steals for the Elks, which played its fourth straight game that was decided by four points or less.
Taholah 58, Mary M. Knight 19
Naheah McCrory and Natayla Russell each scored in double figures as the Taholah Lady Chitwhins earned a 58-19 victory on Jan. 22 in Taholah.
McCrory had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds to lead Taholah. She also added five blocks to an impressive stat line.
Russell added 13 points for Lady Chitwhins team that head coach Frank Pope admitted didn’t play to its usual level on Wednesday.
“I thought that we played OK in spurts, but our rhythm was way off tonight,” he said. “We need to play better in our next game and focus more.”