Cold-shooting Elma girls still grab league lead

Appropriately for a team that was wearing that color, Elma’s girls registered a blue-collar victory on Tuesday night.

Overcoming frigid shooting with rebounding and defense, the Eagles took sole possession of the Evergreen 1A League girls basketball lead by topping Hoquiam, 49-35, at Hoquiam Square Garden.

Particularly for a battle of league unbeatens, this was far from a thing of beauty.

Neither team, in fact, shot 20 percent from the field. Elma connected on only 14 of 72 field-goal attempts for a .194 percentage, which still bettered Hoquiam’s .186.

“You would like to put it all on defense, but there were a lot of layins we missed,” HHS coach Chad Allan said. The Eagles could make the same claim.

Elma (6-0, 11-3) compensated for its lack of accuracy, however, by decisively outrebounding the Grizzlies (4-1, 8-4) in the first three quarters. The Eagles also used their press and a man-to-man half-court defense to have a hand in 31 HHS turnovers.

“What I liked was even when our shots weren’t dropping, we worked hard on defense,” Elma coach Lisa Johnson noted.

Although far off her customary form from the perimeter, Elma senior post Megan Finger canned 10 of 12 free throws to lead all scorers with 18 points. She was the only player on either team to score in double figures.

Miranda McDonald added eight points for the winners, while Ellie Quercia and Brandi Creviston shared Hoquiam scoring honors with nine apiece.

The Eagles were in control more than the score indicated. They led by as many as 26, but failed to score in the final six minutes.

Nevertheless, the underdog Grizzlies hung tough for the opening 12 minutes.

Although never ahead, Hoquiam tied it at 10 when Chelsy Stewart connected from just inside the 3-point line with 1:03 remaining in the opening period.

Ashlyn Malmstrom’s three-ball in the opening minute of the second period put Elma back on top to stay. The Eagles gradually pulled away to a 24-16 halftime advantage.

Elma then blew it open in a bruising third quarter that largely consisted of Hoquiam fouls and turnovers. The visitors went 13-of-19 from the stripe in a period that contained 20 fouls and 28 free throws. The Grizzlies also forked it over 12 times in that quarter.

Finger made 5-of-6 from the line in a 26-second span, while Regan Wollen added four foul shots in a 16-2 spurt that made it 40-19 with about three minutes remaining in the third period.

Wollen finished with 12 rebounds, while Brooke Goldsmith contributed nine boards, eight steals and six assists for the Eagles, while Hoquiam’s Stewart and Quercia each pulled down 12 rebounds.

“I thought they outrebounded us and outmuscled us,” Allan said. “I thought their tenacity was better than ours, but I thought our hustle was equal to theirs.”

Johnson applauded her troops for maintaining their poise in the physical contest.

The Grizzlies make the long trek to Forks in a makeup game Thursday. The Eagles will make the same journey on Friday night.

Elma 10 14 21 4 — 49 Hoq 10 6 7 12 — 35

Elma (49) — Goldsmith 5, McDonald 8, Smythe 1, Finger 18, Pacheco 3, Farrar 2, Wollen 7, Malmstrom 3, Cristelli 2, M. Thompson, Cooper, A. Thompson. FG — 14-72 (.194). FT —17-28.

Hoquiam (35) — Quercia 9, Rose 3, Creviston 9, Stewart 8, Doyle 3, Madison, Bradley, Johnson 3, Dhooghe, Mode, Parker. FG — 11-59 (.186). FT — 12-27.

JV — Elma 66, Hoquiam 32. Lauren Thompson 18 points and Aspen Thompson 14 for unbeaten Elma.