Even as crunch time approached, the Grays Harbor College women never lost their shooting touch.
Hitting 50 percent of their field-goal attempts, the well-balanced Chokers notched their first conference win by outshooting Green River Community College, 81-73, in the women’s half of an NWAACC Western Division basketball doubleheader Wednesday night at Sam Benn.
A tough first half pushed Grays Harbor into a deep halftime deficit, but the Chokers mounted a dramatic comeback in the second half before falling short, 59-55, in the men’s half of the doubleheader.
The GHC teams travel to Clark on Saturday.
WOMEN Chokers 81, Gators 73
Grays Harbor’s scoring output and shooting percentage both represented season highs.
The Chokers (1-6, 5-11) made only one 3-point basket, but they attacked the basket effectively — both in transition and in their half-court offense.
While committing 25 turnovers, lower than their season average, the Chokers were able to balance those mistakes with press-beating layins.
“We shot 50 percent from the field because we took good shots,” GHC coach Christine Nelson asserted. “We were a little more aggressive. I told them to be patient, but when you’ve got (openings), go for it.”
Bobbi Britt carried the Chokers early, tallying 15 of her game-high 21 points in the first half. She also pulled down 12 rebounds and dished out six assists.
Bianca Russell also had a double-double with 11 points and 12 points. In addition, the Chokers received solid contributions from point guard Molly Carmody (17 points and four assists) and Wenda Poleo (16 points and seven rebounds).
Keryn Knight, a 5-foot-10 southpaw from Jefferson High in Federal Way, paced Green River (1-6, 3-13) with 15 points.
Leading between three and seven points for much of the first half, the Chokers were overtaken at 61-59 when Knight canned a three-ball with 7:54 remaining.
Following three ties, the Chokers moved in front to stay, 67-65, when Britt banked one home on a drive into the key.
After Green River’s Puja Taya made one of two free throws, Russell nailed a jumper from the right wing, Britt sank both ends of a one-and-one from the foul line and Raymond’s Mallory Maneman drove for a layin that gave the Chokers a seven-point bulge with less than three minutes left. They led by as many as nine in the late going.
Montesano graduate Tasha Dotson contributed six points and four boards in her first GHC start.
Former Naselle High ace Carley Kitzman scored 10 points for Green River before fouling out with 6:02 left.
MEN Gators 59, Chokers 55
“We get ourselves into a deep hole, work as hard as we can to get ourselves out of that hole and come up a possession or two short,” GHC head coach Jordan Altman said. “When you miss one, one turns into two, three, four, you put yourself into a mentality to take weak shots and fade away from the basket.”
Grays Harbor (1-6, 3-13) trailed 33-12 at halftime to Green River (4-3, 12-6) and had nothing going for it offensively in the first half. All of that changed in the second half, with Barry Smith (ankle injury) starting the half to give GHC its closest original lineup on the floor. It helped.
Tyler Harrod hit a 3-point basket to start, Arthur Erholm scored inside and Alex Richters, Harrod, Riley Alvord and Jordan Bowman began hitting shots to give the Chokers momentum. Coupled with a good defensive effort that was the only good thing to carry over from the first half, the Chokers trimmed the deficit.
A modest 16-6 run turned into a 28-11 surge and eventually a sustained 38-17 sequence that tied the game at 50-50. Alvord hit a mid-range jumper with 1:45 left in the contest to tie the game. However, Green River responded with two straight baskets, including a transition dunk by Marquis Miles for a 54-50 lead on a GHC timeout with 1:10 remaining.
The Gators hit 5-of-8 free throws in the final minute to hold off the Chokers, who got two big baskets by Alvord — a driving layup and a 3-pointer from the corner that trimmed the deficit to 57-55 with 21.2 seconds left. GHC had one last play for the tie, down 58-55, but Harrod’s trey from the left wing hit the iron.
“We just finished, hitting our first two shots and had these big smiles on our faces,” Altman said. “Then our third, fourth and fifth shots fell and things got going again. It is difficult for a team on the road to get shut down on offense and return to work on defense, kind of like what happened to us in the first half.
“We executed the (final) play,” Altman added. “I knew they’d concentrate on Jordan Bowman, who is our best 3-point shooter. Tyler had a great night for us, so we called the 3 for him. He got a good look at it and it came just an inch short.”
Harrod led the Chokers in scoring with 14 points, all of them coming in the second half. Alvord added 13 points, all but two in the second half.
Kortney Darby led all scorers with 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Gators. He was one of the key components in Green River’s 28-4 first-half ending run that established the 21-point halftime lead.
Green River (73) — Kullberg 10, Moore 2, Kitzman 10, Taya 11, Weist 3, Miller 11, Olsen, Morgan 5, Knight 15, Woods 5, Bryan 1. FG — 28-76 (.368). FT — 12-25.
Grays Harbor (81) — Carmody 17, Poleo 16, Patterson 2, Russell 11, Dotson 6, Britt 21, Starr 1, Swisher 4, Maneman 3. FG — 30-60 (.500). FT — 20-37.
Halftime: Grays Harbor 41, Green River 38.
Green River (59) — Carter 6, Jones, Miles 10, Brown 16, Loy, Pedersen 5, Hebert 32, Darby 21, Hill, McCrossin 1. FG — 21-50 (.420). FT — 16-25.
Grays Harbor (55) — Hunt, Bowman 9, Eubanks 4, Alvord 13, Richters 2, Harrod 14, Smith 6, Wyatt 2, Erholm 5. FG — 24-60 (.400). FT — 2-13.
Halftime: Green River 33, Grays Harbor 12.