MONTESANO — Turning Elma misses into makes of their own at the other end of the court was a third-quarter specialty of Montesano’s boys.
Using a lethal running game to outscore the Eagles 22-4 in the third period, the Bulldogs remained unbeaten with a 57-50 Evergreen 1A Conference boys basketball victory Tuesday night at Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.
Making a successful transition from football to the hardwood, the Bulldogs improved to 2-0 in league and 4-0 overall.
Junior post Kenny Roy, usually found at the end of the Monte fast break, tallied 17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half.
Senior post Layne Bruner, the lone starter who was not a member of Montesano’s state 1A championship football team, turned in a dominating performance at both ends of the court with 18 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Junior guard Ryan Collin, who knocked down four 3-point shots, topped Elma with 16 points.
Simple arithmetic made it plain that the third quarter decided this fast-paced but turnover-laden contest.
Thanks to four three-balls, the Eagles (0-3, 0-7) somehow overcame 20 turnovers to lead 27-26 at the half.
Elma’s ball-handling improved, but its shooting went south as the second half opened. And the speedy Bulldogs made their rivals pay for almost every miss.
Although not cherry-picking in the conventional sense, the Bulldogs were releasing players downcourt after nearly every defensive rebound and were uncanny in finding the open man with outlet passes.
“They weren’t getting back in the first half. We noticed that and got some easy layins,” Montesano coach Doug Schupbach said. “This is a smart group of kids. They realize what’s going on on the floor.”
Bruner’s blocked shot triggered a fast-break layin by Roy that opened the second-half scoring. Seconds later, Roy shook loose on another breakaway, this time taking a pass from Matthew Jensen.
Those buckets ignited a run of 11 successive Bulldog points. The Eagles, who missed their first 14 shots of the third quarter, finally broke the ice on a Chance Bremer drive.
Montesano, however, responded with 11 of the next 13 points to go up 48-31 on a Bruner three-ball in the final minute of the quarter.
Down 52-34 with 5:05 remaining, the Eagles capitalized on some careless Monte ball-handling to reduce the deficit to single digits. Levi Horton’s conventional three-point play cut the margin to six, 56-50, with 31 seconds remaining.
Having been assessed only one team foul in the second half until then, however, the Eagles faced a herculean task merely to get the Bulldogs to the foul line.
Jensen, Monte’s football quarterback, hit Shad Rogers — one of his favorite gridiron targets — with a long inbound pass following an Eagle foul. Rogers made one of two free throws for the final point.
Elma coach Marvin Prince noted his team is make progress over some early blowout losses.
“In the second half, we came out flat. We stood (around),” Prince said. “We’re getting better, we just need to close the deal.”
Roy wound up 10 of 15 from the field, almost all coming on close-range attempts. Jensen dished out five assists.
Schupbach cited the play of Tucker Ibabao, who started in place of Ben Ohashi , who was sidelined with a dislocated finger.
Ray Stark had 10 points and Bremer 12 rebounds for the Eagles.
Elma will travel to the Seaside Tournament on Thursday, facing Astoria at 10:45 a.m. The Bulldogs entertain Tenino in the first game of a co-ed doubleheader Friday.
Elma 11 16 4 19 — 50 Monte 10 16 22 9 — 57
Elma (50) — Collin 16, Nauman 4, Horton 5, Bremer 8, Wilson 4, Farr 3, Sayler, Stark 10, Osgood. FG — 18-53 (.340). FT — 8-15.
Montesano (57) — Ibabao 10, Rogers 2, Roy 21, Bruner 18, Jensen 4, Smith 2, Usher. FG — 25-57 (.439). FT — 5-10.