Turnovers plague Monte girls in regional loss to Freeman

Turnovers plague Monte girls in regional loss to Freeman

TUMWATER — An avalanche of turnovers stranded Montesano’s girls at a familiar destination.

Harassing the Bulldogs into 38 turnovers, Freeman earned a state berth by pulling away from the Bulldogs, 50-30, in a regional 1A girls basketball game on Feb. 24 at Tumwater.

Freeman (15-9) completed what was undoubtedly an emotional state odyssey. The school southeast of Spokane was the scene of a fatal shooting of a student by a classmate last September. The Scotties will face District IV champion La Center in the opening round of state Wednesday in Yakima.

The Evergreen 1A League co-champion Bulldogs completed their season at 17-8. It was the sixth consecutive season that Monte’s girls had made as far as regionals — and their sixth loss at that level.

Ball-handling had been Montesano’s Achilles heel for what in other respects had been an overachieving campaign. Freeman exploited that shortcoming with an aggressive full-court man-to-man defense.

While Monte’s miscues took all forms, dribbling into traffic and forced passes inside accounted for the bulk of them. The Bulldogs had some success early on lobs to sophomore post Zoe Hutchings, but the Scotties eventually took away that mode of attack.

“Their defensive pressure definitely got to us,” Monte coach Julie Graves summarized. “We played frantic and didn’t take care of the ball. We didn’t make the best decisions.”

Twenty-two of the turnovers came in the first half and, with Freeman struggling with its shooting, almost certainly prevented the Bulldogs from taking a fairly significant halftime lead.

As it was, with Hutchings providing most of the firepower, the Dogs led narrowly for a good portion of the half. After teammate Lexi Lovell scored on a breakaway layin, Hutchings converted a pass from Glory Grubb for an 18-17 advantage with 2:48 remaining in the second quarter.

The final 30 seconds of the half permanently shifted the momentum in Freeman’s direction. First, the Scotties rebounded a missed free throw and fed Kylie Nelson for a 3-point basket.

Freeman regained possession after the Bulldogs were whistled for an offensive foul. Macy Luhr subsequently sank two foul shots with five seconds left to give the Scotties a 26-20 halftime edge.

Dominating the glass in the second half (they were credited with 23 offensive rebounds for the game), the Scotties opened the third quarter with a 13-2 run that settled matters.

In keeping with its pattern this season, Freeman displayed almost unnatural scoring balance. All 11 Scotties that saw action scored, with none tallying more than eight points. Luhr and reserve guard Ellis Crowley finished with eight apiece. Freeman’s bench outscored its starters, 30-20.

While they shot only 26 percent against Monte’s zone, the Scotties did put down seven three-balls.

The 6-foot-2 Hutchings was a formidable presence in the first half, scoring 11 of her 13 points and a good number of her 11 rebounds in the opening two quarters.

Zoee Lisherness grabbed seven rebounds and Grubb distributed three assists for the Bulldogs.

Merely qualifying for regionals represented a major accomplishment for a Monte team that sustained major graduation losses from a year ago. Graves thanked seniors Samantha Stanfield, Haylee Perkinson, McKenna Miller and Kaydee Mittleider for their leadership and contributions to the program.

“The girls had a phenomenal season,” she concluded. “Coming into the season with a brand-new team, some people didn’t even have us making it to district. To claim a share of the league championship and making it to regionals with only two berths (out of the district), the girls exceeded our expectations.”

Freeman 10 16 16 8 — 50

Montesano 10 10 4 6 — 30

Freeman (50) — Luhr 8, Miller 4, Chisholm 2, Parisotto 2, Edwards 4, Crowley 8, Holt 6, Nelson 3, Sorrel Aldendorf 5, Goldsmith 4, Sage Aldendorf 4. FG — 16-62 (.258). FT — 11-20.

Montesano (30) — Granstrom 2, Hutchings 13, Stanfield 2, Lovell 5, Lisherness 6, Perkinson 2, Ekerson, Grubb. FG — 12-41 (.293). FT — 5-7.