Grays Harbor College basketball teams can only hope that the first of three home co-ed doubleheaders this week was not a harbinger of things to come.
Never behind in either game, visiting Centralia College swept the Chokers on Monday night at Sam Benn Gym. The Trailblazer men withstood a second-half GHC comeback for a 76-66 victory in the second half of the twin bill. The Western Division-leading Centralia women overwhelmed the short-handed Chokers, 90-49, in the opening contest.
The Chokers will host Highline on Wednesday and South Puget Sound on Saturday.
MENBlazers 76, Chokers 66
Centralia dominated the offensive glass in building a 17-6 lead with the game less than seven minutes old.
Despite a strong defense effort in the second half, it proved to be too much of an uphill climb for the Chokers (1-11, 3-18).
Using a tenacious man-to-man defense to force numerous second-half turnovers, GHC slowly chipped away at a 40-25 halftime deficit. Too many close-in misses, however, made it difficult for the Chokers to generate any significant momentum.
They finally cut the margin to six, at 65-59, when D.J. Eubanks hit a 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:20 remaining.
The Chokers had an opportunity to draw closer, but were guilty of a turnover on their next possession.
Centralia (9-4, 15-9) then broke the GHC press and fed John Dumetz for a layin at the 1:08 mark. The Trailblazers put away from the game from the line in a foul-filled final minute.
Grays Harbor coach Jordan Altman wasn’t impressed by his club’s second-half performance.
“In the first half, we were awful on defense,” he asserted. “We started the game flat. That’s our M.O. and then we try to get some type of moral victory by fighting our way back into it. I’m tired of it.”
Shooting and rebounding were clearly the key statistics in this contest. The Blazers shot 52 percent from the field in the first half and owned the glass overall, 44-30.
The Chokers, meanwhile, were able to consistently take the ball inside, but their contested short-range shots too often failed to drop. They wound up only 37 percent from the field.
Mozeek Waggener, a 6-foot-7 import from Beaumont, Texas, had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Centralia. Former Northwest Christian High School standout Zach Carras finished with 15 points.
Grays Harbor guard Jordan Bowman nailed two three-balls in the final 5 1/2 minutes to tally a team-high 15 points. Arthur Erholm and Barry Smith added 13 points apiece. Riley Alvord and Aberdeen’s Alex Richters handed out five and four assists, respectively.
Blazers 90, Chokers 49
Bobbi Britt, Grays Harbor’s leading scorer and last week’s Western Division Player of the Week, missed the contest with a sore knee. Even at full strength, however, the Chokers would have been overmatched against the quick, fluid Blazers (12-1, 19-4).
Former Rainier High ace Kristen Schoenherr was unstoppable for the Blazers. Although she played less than half the contest (only 19 minutes), the ex-Evergreen 1A League Most Valuable Player hit 14 of 15 shots — most of them from relatively close range — in leading all scorers with 29 points. As a team, the visitors shot 55 percent from the field.
The Chokers, meanwhile, committed 33 turnovers — 24 in the first half.
In contrast to the men, the GHC women (2-10, 6-15) started decently. Although never in front, they forged a couple of ties in the opening four minutes and were down by a respectable eight points (29-21) when Wenda Poleo made two free throws at the 10:02 mark of the first half.
Those, however, proved to be Grays Harbor’s final points until Tasha Dotson’s layin at the first half buzzer. The Trailblazers carried a 48-23 advantage into intermission and steadily built the lead in the second half.
“I thought our kids worked hard,” Choker coach Christine Nelson reflected. “(Centralia) is a very talented team, that’s why they’re No. 1 in our (division) and No. 3 overall. They beat you on the drive and find the open person.”
Poleo scored 11 points, while Molly Carmody contributed 10 points and Bianca Russell nine points, seven rebounds and six assits. Dotson was cited for her play off the bench.
Centralia (90) — Sauls 2, Mengarelli 13, Adams 8, Schoenherr 29, Tanaka 7, Gee 11, Davis 6, Sproul 4, Brossard 4, Wiegand 6. FG — 37-67 (.552). FT — 11-14.
Grays Harbor (49) — Maneman 5, Rydman, Carmody 10, Poleo 11, Russell 9, Swisher 6, Patterson 2, Dotson 6. FG — 19-50 (.380). FT — 7-12.
Halftime: Centralia 48, Grays Harbor 23.
Centralia (76) — Lockett 10, Carras 15, Dam 8, Mozeek Waggener 18, Miles Waggener 2, Scott 5, Dumetz 6, Fuller 6, Broussard 6. FG — 26-53 (.491). FT — 20-25.
Grays Harbor (66) — Bowman 15, Alvord 7, Richters 2, Harrod 8, Wyatt 5, Erholm 13, Hunt, Eubanks 3, Smith 13. FG — 23-62 (.371). FT — 15-23.
Halftime: Centralia 40, Grays Harbor 25.