Monte boys on brink of elimination after upset loss to Stevenson

Bulldogs miss several chances to win game, fall 74-71 in district first-round OT setback

Montesano’s dreams of hoisting a district title will have to wait another year after the Bulldogs were upset by Stevenson 74-71 in overtime in the first round of the 1A District 4 Tournament on Friday in Montesano.

In what turned out to be a gut-wrenching loss, Montesano failed to hit a field goal over the final 2:30 of overtime after rallying to tie the game in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Monte (15-6 overall) started the game off well, holding an 18-14 lead after one quarter as senior guard Carter Olsen went a perfect 4-of-4 from the field for eight points in the frame.

The Bulldogs carried the four-point lead at 35-31 into the halftime break as No. 4 Stevenson was able to keep No. 1 Monte within striking distance.

Montesano’s Wesley Bjornsgard pulls up for a jump shot over Stevenson’s Ben Wright (33) during the Bulldogs’ 74-71 loss to Stevenson on Friday in Montesano. (Ryan Sparks | Grays Harbor News Group)

Montesano’s Wesley Bjornsgard pulls up for a jump shot over Stevenson’s Ben Wright (33) during the Bulldogs’ 74-71 loss to Stevenson on Friday in Montesano. (Ryan Sparks | Grays Harbor News Group)

Monte appeared to be well on its way to a comfortable win after stretching its lead to 48-39 on senior Trace Ridgway’s drive and layup with 4:23 left in the third quarter.

But Stevenson’s Ethan Haight caught fire, scoring eight straight points to erase the deficit and cap a 12-0 run to give Stevenson a 51-48 lead with 21 seconds left in the third quarter.

Monte’s Braden Dohrmann stopped the bleeding with a three at the buzzer to send the game into the fourth quarter knotted up at 51-all.

During a back-and-forth final period, it was Stevenson (9-12) that held an advantage as the game wound down. Guard Jesse Miller hit a pull-up jumper to give Stevenson a 62-58 lead with less than three minutes left.

But Monte responded, tying the game on a jumper from freshman Wesley Bjornsgard and gaining a 64-62 lead when Dohrmann took a sharp outlet pass from Olsen and converted on the fast-break with just under a minute to play.

Monte had a chance to close out the game when Dohrmann was fouled with 27.4 second left to shoot for a 1-and-1 opportunity. But the senior guard missed the front end and Stevenson grabbed the rebound.

On the ensuing possession, Stevenson’s Brady Hall drove to the paint and scored while being fouled by Monte’s Cole Daniels, tying the game with 21.7 seconds left and giving Stevenson a chance to take the lead. But Hall’s free-throw attempt was off and the rebound was collected by Monte.

After a timeout, a crazy scenario in the final moments of regulation sent hearts racing. With 13.4 seconds to go, Monte looked for a final shot to end the game, but a Dohrmann turnover was followed by a turnover by Stevenson’s Ben Wright. The ball found its way to Bjornsgard, who put up a half-court shot at the buzzer that fell short, sending the game to overtime.

In the extra frame, Bjornsgard gave Monte a quick lead with a pull-up jumper, but Stevenson responded when Wahto scored and was fouled on the next possession, making the free-throw to give Stevenson a 67-66 lead.

After a Stevenson bucket made it a 69-66 ballgame, Bjornsgard hit a three to tie the game with 2:40 to go.

Monte then took a two-point lead at 71-69 when Dohrmann hit two free throws of a 1-and-1 opportunity with 2:25 left.

Stevenson then tied the game on a pair of free throws from Haight at the 2:14 mark followed by two more free throws from point guard Jon Blackledge to take a 73-71 lead with 32.6 seconds left.

But Monte couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch as Bjornsgard missed a short jumper in the paint with 15 seconds left and, after a Miller free throw with 13.7 seconds left, a Ridgway three at the buzzer was off-target, giving Stevenson the 74-71 upset victory.

Ridgway finished with a game-high 23 points with Bjornsgard (18 points) and Olsen (11 points) also scoring in double figures for Montesano.

Stevenson was led by Miller (21 pts.), Haight (17 pts.) and Wright (17 pts.) as Stevenson shot 26-for-56 (42%) in the game, including 10-of-24 (42%) from the 3-point line, and 11-for-15 (73%) from the free-throw line.

Monte head coach Doug Galloway said the way Stevenson shot the ball was a key in beating his team.

“They got a lot of key rebounds against us, shot very well, got hands on balls and made free-throws down the stretch,” he said. “I really thought they did a great job in taking some things away and they got us on our heels a bit.”

The upset loss ended Monte’s chances of a district title and puts Montesano in a position of having to win three straight games to earn a spot in the 1A State Tournament.

“You get 24 hours to mourn a loss or celebrate a victory,” Galloway said. “Tomorrow, we’ve got to come back and get ready to play. … The kids have been resilient all year long and I fully expect them to be ready to go. … We’ve just to to refocus, kind of reset our minds and go from there. I know these kids and I know they’ll come back and be ready to play.”

Monte takes on Elma, which lost to King’s Way Christian on Friday, in an elimination game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Montesano High School.