The final scores were firmly in Pierce College’s column on Wednesday night, but Grays Harbor College made the Raiders work very hard for those “lucky” 13-point margins.
The GHC women never led against Pierce, but they never allowed the visitors to feel comfortable either in an 82-69 decision in the opener of this NWAACC Western Division basketball doubleheader at Sam Benn Gym.
In the men’s nightcap, the Chokers were greeted with 3-foot replicas of their faces in the stands, but a small slump in the first half allowed the Raiders to hold off a furious second-half rally in a 89-76 win.
On Saturday, GHC hits the road to take on Lower Columbia College in Longview.
MEN Raiders 89, Chokers 76
Grays Harbor’s defense was the catalyst for its offense on this night, but a 12-0 run in the first half was Pierce’s buffer zone to hold off a second-half rally.
Contested at a near-breakneck pace, the Raiders came away with the game’s substantial run, turning a 20-18 lead with nine minutes left in the half into a 32-20 advantage with 5 1/2 minutes left in the first half. This 3 1/2-minute stretch turned out to be pivotal.
“We had one bad stretch of four minutes,” GHC head coach Jordan Altman said. “I got my starters back in and the bleeding stopped. We rode that into halftime and we got a lot of great effort in the second half to get back and take the lead. When you haven’t won a whole lot of games, it is difficult to understand the value of each possession. Offensively and defensively, we just devalued just one or two possessions. That just puts you into a position of playing from behind.”
Pierce, led by sophomore forward Tyrell Lewis, used the surge to stay away for a 44-32 halftime lead. GHC (1-8, 3-15) found success inside the paint, but not enough to erase the deficit. Defensively, however, the Raiders struggled with turnovers forced by the Chokers’ half-court defense.
“We’ve definitely taking defense as our ace in the hole,” Altman said. “We know we’re not capable of going out there and scoring a lot of points. We try to stay realistic with the guys on what we can and can’t do, but also understand that that doesn’t mean we won’t win games. We can’t score 90-100 points, that’s not in our hand. We can try and keep teams under 80 and we look at that as our benchmark. Again, with the exception of that 12-0 run, we hold them under 80 and it is a whole different ballgame.”
The defense slowed down Pierce in its half-court offense to allow the offense to chip away at the deficit. Midway through the second half, GHC was rewarded for its efforts. A quick 10-2 run, capped by back-to-back transition baskets from Arthur Erholm, gave the Chokers a 62-all tie with 8 1/2 minutes left.
The lead, however, didn’t come until after two Pierce free throws on the next possession. Sophomore post Nolan Wyatt, who played in front of his former Elma High School head coach Marvin Prince and other Elma backers there to see him and ex-teammate (and Pierce freshman) Kyle Emerson, converted a three-point play for a 65-64 lead with 7:16 remaining.
However, the Chokers couldn’t sustain the momentum. Pierce quickly re-established itself with a 13-5 surge and milked the clock to keep the lead, hitting free throws and shots late for a game-ending 25-11 run.
Lewis, who emphatically punctuated the contest with a flying dunk for the final points, led all scorers with 30 points. Wyatt led the Chokers with a team-high and season-high 21 points, including 12-of-13 free throws, and freshman guard Tyler Harrod added 15 points.
WOMEN Raiders 82, Chokers 69
This return engagement between the Raiders and the Chokers was a much closer affair than the 106-69 Pierce rout at home earlier this season.
The Raiders held an 11-point bulge midway through the half, but the Chokers climbed back to within one, 28-27, with 2 1/2 minutes left.
Holding a three-point lead, Pierce got back-to-back 3-point baskets from Carli Elwin and Kawehi Hagi to establish a 39-30 halftime lead. Elwin got her points, leading all scorers with 30 points, but her teammates struggled for most of the contest.
The Raiders built on their halftime lead into a secure double-digit lead, as much as 21 (61-40) with 14:20 left in the contest, on Elwin’s shooting. The Chokers (1-8, 5-13) returned the favor with their own 19-5 surge to get back to within nine, 67-59, with 8 1/2 minutes left. Elwin had fouled out during the course of the run and the door was open to trim the deficit further for GHC.
However, even with the Chokers holding an advantage on the offensive boards (19-8) in the second half, the Raiders took the air out of the ball and methodically ended the contest on a 15-5 run.
“We did a heck of a lot better (tonight),” GHC head coach Christine Nelson said. “We were a bit unlucky. Some of the balls just hit off of our hands and bounced for them. This might have been the most physical game we’ve played and the girls did a nice job of responding to that. (Pierce) presses and want to cause chaos; that’s how we were scoring. Our rebounding in the second half helped us get back into the game and we did a nice job on the boards tonight. I’m proud and happy with the way they played tonight.”
Bobbi Britt led GHC with 21 points and 15 rebounds, including six offensive boards. Mallory Maneman, cited by Nelson for her aggressiveness on offense, scored a season-high 16 points. Bianca Russell added 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Chokers.
Mackenzie Lancaster scored nine of her 21 points during the final run without Elwin on the floor to help Pierce.
Pierce College (82) — Council, Jones 2, Lancaster 21, Simonson 6, Hagi 8, Elwin 30, Rodrigues, Hart 8, Fakatoufifita 7. FG — 32-83 (.386). FT — 10-16.
Grays Harbor College (69) — Maneman 16, Rydman, Carmody 9, Brit 21, Starr 4, Swisher 2, Poleo 5, Patterson 2, Russell 10, Dotson. FG — 24-67 (.358). FT — 20-31.
Halftime: Pierce 39, GHC 30.
Pierce College (89) — Matthews 10, Canton, Parker 12, Emerson, Palmer 18, Jacobs 5, Jefferies 2, Lewis 30, Porter 12, Kuiper. FG — 35-69 (.507). FT — 13-23.
Grays Harbor College (76) — Hunt, Bowman 5, Eubanks, Alvord 8, Richters 7, Harrod 15, Smith 10, Wyatt 21, Erholm 10. FG — 24-61 (.393). FT — 24-29.
Halftime: Pierce 44, GHC 32.