The Montesano Bulldogs saw the King’s Knights steadily pull away in a season-ending 65-43 loss in the first round of the 1A State Tournament on Wednesday at the SunDome in Yakima.
In a physical game that totalled 31 personal-foul calls between the two teams, King’s held a 12-7 lead in a low-scoring first quarter.
But after the two teams traded baskets in the opening minute of the second quarter, the No. 6 Knights (19-8 overall) went on a 10-0 run to turn what was a 14-9 lead into a commanding 24-9 advantage.
From that point on, Montesano (16-10) played catch-up, trailing by 30-16 at the half and by as much as 16 points at 42-26 halfway through the third quarter.
The Bulldogs rallied in the third, cutting into the deficit with a 6-0 run capped by a Paige Lisherness bucket that cut the Knights’ lead to 42-34 in the final minutes of the third quarter.
But whenever Monte made a move, King’s responded. The Knights closed the quarter on a 6-2 run that included a Samantha Skaggs turnaround shot from the post and a pair of free throws from Mia Flor sandwiched around a jumper by Monte’s Jordan Karr, pushing the Knights’ lead back up to double digits at 47-36 at the end of the third quarter.
Any momentum Monte had gained in the third was quickly extinguished in the fourth quarter as King’s scored the first six points of the quarter while Monte went scoreless for the first 3:20 of the frame, ending the drought when Zoee Lisherness scored and was fouled to make it a 53-38 ballgame.
A Maia Young three cut the King’s lead to 57-41 shortly thereafter, but it was too little, too late as Monte’s season ended with a 65-43 loss.
The defeat marked the end of the prep career for Montesano’s lone senior, First Team All-Evergreen League player Zoe Hutchings. Hutchings, who is the only holdover from Montesano’s last state-tournament team in 2016, capped her senior season in style, scoring a team high 12 points to go along with 12 rebounds while blocking the shot of King’s standout Samantha Skaggs four times in the ballgame.
Hutchings was also recognized when she received the Sportsmanship Medallion after the game.
Paige Lisherness, who has stepped up her game in the absence of Monte’s second-leading scorer McKynnlie Dalan (wrist injury), by scoring nine points and grabbing six rebounds.
Zoee Lisherness added six points for Monte, which outrebounded King’s 40-30, but shot just 33.3% from the field on 17-of-51 shooting.
Turnovers were also problematic for the young Bulldogs, who feature seven freshman on the roster. Monte committed 20 turnover to 11 for the Knights.
King’s was led by Skaggs, who scored a game-high 18 points on 9-of-19 shooting, eight of those points coming in the first half when Hutchings was on the bench in foul trouble.
Flor and Claire Gallagher added 13 points apiece for the Knights, who hit on 24-of-53 (45.3%) shots in the game and 13-of-19 (68%) free throws.
The loss ended a season that began in turmoil for the Bulldogs after school administrators unceremoniously removed former head coach Julie Graves from her position just weeks before their first practice.
But under new head coach Mark Mansfield, Montesano was able to right the ship and finish with a 7-1 league record and a trip the the state tournament.
Montesano 7 9 20 7 — 43
King’s 12 18 17 18 — 65
Montesano — Hutchings (12 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks); P. Lisherness (9 pts., 6 reb., 2 steals); Jaiden King (5 pts., 3 reb., 3 stl.); Karr (4 pts.); M. Young (3 pts.); Olivia Young (3 pts., 2 reb.); Addie Winter (pt.), Vanna Prom (3 reb.); Hannah Bruland (reb.)