ELMA — Stung by a near-flawless Elma second quarter, Montesano’s boys used the power of the press to author a comeback story on Tuesday.
Feasting on Eagle turnovers in the second half, the Bulldogs rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to edge their East County rivals, 53-51, in an Evergreen 1A League boys basketball game at Elma.
Kenny Roy scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half, while guards Matthew Jensen and Tucker Ibabao also made major contributions in the second half for the Bulldogs (5-4, 10-6).
Montesano even survived playing the fourth quarter without Layne Bruner, its leading scorer for the season. Bruner, who scored 13 points, turned an ankle near the end of the third period and did not return.
Elma junior forward Chance Bremer led all scorers with 19 points.
The Eagles could scarcely have flown higher during a second period in which they made 10-of-16 field-goal attempts and played turnover-free ball. The 22-point quarter lifted Elma (2-7, 2-14) to a 32-22 halftime lead.
That development prompted Eagle coach Marvin Prince, whose team had been plagued by poor third quarters for much of the season, to bypass the standard locker room session and keep his team on the floor during halftime in an effort to retain the second-quarter mojo.
“We tried to do something different,” Prince reflected afterward.
Instead, thanks to Monte’s pressure defense, the second half turned out to be more of the same for the Eagles.
Shifting into a full-court press, the Bulldogs forced turnovers on Elma’s first two possessions. Jensen converted a steal into a basket, then hit a 3-point jumper moments later as Monte needed less than 90 seconds to trim the deficit to four (33-29).
Elma wound up committing 13 of its 19 turnovers in the second half. The Bulldogs scored 16 points off Eagle miscues.
“We went back and played like we normally do, with the press,” Montesano coach Doug Schupbach said. “With this group of kids, sometimes when we go to our press it gets our intensity level up on offense, too.”
“The first two possessions of the second half set the tone for them,” Prince asserted. “It gave them confidence and put us on our heels. I thought we competed, but our mental mistakes continue to plague us.”
After Jensen loosened up Elma’s defense with his perimeter jumpers, Roy and Bruner took the ball to the hoop almost at will. A team that has fluctuated wildly in its field-goal shooting this season, the Bulldogs made 55 percent from the floor last night.
The Bulldogs grabbed a 43-41 lead on Roy’s driving layin with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Elma’s Joe Wilson’s answered with a rebound bucket that tied it at the three-quarter mark. But Roy drove for another layin to open the fourth quarter and Ibabao released to take an outlet pass for a fast-break bucket that gave the Bulldogs a 47-43 advantage less than a minute into the concluding stanza.
Missing their first 10 shots of the final period, the Eagles never caught up.
The Bulldogs led by as many as seven (53-46) on Roy’s layin off a Jensen pass with 1:57 remaining. They missed some chances to put it away, however, in a turnover-filled concluding sequence, and Ryan Collin’s three-ball with 4.7 seconds left cut the margin to two, at 53-51.
Montesano’s Ben Ohashi, fouled on the inbounds pass, missed the front end of a one-and-one, but the Eagles had time for only a three-quarter-court heave by Ray Stark that fell short at the buzzer.
Roy, shooting almost entirely from within 5 feet, made 8-of-12 from the field. Ibabao came off the bench to score six of his eight points in the fourth quarter.
Jensen came up with five steals, while Bruner collected three steals and three assists prior to the injury.
The Eagles received strong inside performances from the 6-foot-2 Bremer (who also grabbed nine rebounds) and the 6-4 Wilson (12 points and seven boards). All 12 of Collin’s points came via 3-pointers.
Prince also cited the play of reserve guard Kevin Farr.
On Friday, the Bulldogs host Forks, while the Eagles visit Rainier.
Mon 15 7 21 10 — 53 Elma 10 22 11 8 — 51
Montesano (53) — Rogers, Ohashi 2, Roy 17, Bruner 13, Jensen 13, Ibabao 8, Smith, Nelson. FG — 22-40 (.550). FT — 5-13.
Elma (51) — Collin 12, Nauman 4, Stark 2, Bremer 19, Wilson 12, Farr 2, Osgood, Stevens. FG — 19-45 (.422). FT — 6-10
JV — Montesano 59, Elma 31.