OYEHUT — From the opening tip to final buzzer, it was pretty clear what Hoquiam’s strategy was in Wednesday night’s non-league boys’ basketball game against North Beach — get the ball to Cole Smith and let him work down low.
Despite sitting for much of the third quarter with foul trouble, Smith scored a game-high 27 points and the Grizzlies topped the Hyaks, 53-43.
“I thought our whole team played great,” Smith said. “The game plan was to get the ball inside and I thought we did a great job of that.”
Led by Smith, Hoquiam’s offense started hot. Smith scored the first seven points of the game for the Grizzlies, including six points in the first two minutes, and led his team on a 9-2 run to start the first quarter.
Corey Thornton ended Hoquiam’s run by hitting a free throw and a field goal for North Beach, cutting the Grizzlies’ lead to 9-5.
However, the Grizzlies (5-1) fired right back and closed out the first quarter by going on an 11-2 run for a 20-7 advantage. Smith, David Sandstrom and Rashad Lorton each scored three points during the stretch.
“There’s no question that we were trying to take advantage of our height,” Hoquiam head coach Curtis Eccles said. “I thought our guys did a great job of looking inside for Cole, and Cole did a great job of posting up, and getting big like we want him to. That’s what we want out of Cole, to be able to prove that he’s a big guy, and he did that tonight. That was the difference.”
North Beach (2-2) made a big push late in the second quarter. The Hyaks went on a 9-2 run to cut Hoquiam’s lead to 29-25. Thornton, Tyler Turner, Josh Takagi and Pedro Gonzalez each made a shot from the field during that stretch. North Beach made eight of its nine field-goal attempts in the second quarter.
Unfortunately for North Beach, Smith started the second half just as well as he started the first half.
Once again, Smith scored the Grizzlies first seven points of the half and lead Hoquiam on a 9-2 run for a 40-28 lead. North Beach did not get within eight points after that.
“The difference of the game was obviously Cole Smith as far as Hoquiam’s offense goes,” North Beach head coach Larry Moore said. “But we hurt ourselves with too many turnovers, and we tried to rush too much. We were running and gunning, instead of trying to get a good shot.”
The biggest difference between the Grizzlies’ two half-opening runs was the wide open 3-pointer that Smith drilled in the second half that gave Hoquiam a 38-28 advantage.
When asked about the shot, the senior post player chuckled, and said, “It was my first 3-point attempt this year. Luckily, it worked out for me.”
North Beach will visit Naselle tonight in a Pacific League matchup. On Friday, Hoquiam will host Rainier in a co-ed doubleheader.
Hoq 20 11 13 9 – 53 NB 7 18 9 9 – 43
Hoquiam (53) – Sandstrom 4, Espedal 7, Lorton 5, Newton 2, Kelly, Parker 4, Ventar 2, Smith 27, Guined 2, Brydon. FG – 23-49 (.469). FT – 3-8.
North Beach (43) – Wagner 6, Thornton 11, Beck, Turner 13, Takagi 4, Fry, P Gonzalez 2, Hernandez 6, Ketter 1, Chong, S Gonzalez, Bridge. FG – 16-40 (.400). FT – 4-7
JV – North Beach 38, Hoquiam 26.