A fast start told the story for Hoquiam’s boys.
A slow start, in contrast, didn’t discourage Montesano’s girls in the slightest.
Ronnie Espedal scored 24 points as the Grizzlies led all the way in a 56-37 victory over Montesano in the boys half of an Evergreen 1A League co-ed basketball doubleheader Tuesday night at Hoquiam Square Garden.
After spotting the Grizzlies the game’s first eight points, Montesano’s girls rode the all-around talents of Megan Choate to a 60-52 win.
Coupled with league-leading Tenino’s victory over Forks, Tuesday’s win assured Hoquiam’s boys no worse than a second-seeded berth at district.
The Monte girls victory, meanwhile, creates the possibility of a four-way tie for second behind league champion Elma.
GIRLS Bulldogs 60, Grizzlies 52
Montesano’s traditionally defensive-oriented girls surprisingly emerged as the highest-scoring team in the doubleheader Tuesday — a possibility that seemed particularly remote when they went scoreless for the opening 3:49 while Hoquiam grabbed an 8-0 lead.
Sophomore point guard Choate, however, amassed 21 points and nine rebounds, while Bobbi Fry added 14 points and seven boards and Justine Nuckols 13 points for the Bulldogs (6-5, 12-7). Choate and Nuckols played the entire 32 minutes.
With Mackinzie Malizia also grabbing nine boards, the Bulldogs also enjoyed a significant rebounding advantage while committing only 10 turnovers.
Plagued by poor foul shooting in a previous 34-30 loss to the Grizzlies, Montesano canned 17-of-24 from the line — including 13-of-17 in the fourth quarter.
Winning coach Julie Graves didn’t have to be prompted about the difference from the stripe.
“That’s a huge improvement from 4-of-17 (the last time),” she said.
Junior wing Brandi Creviston, who nailed two of her four 3-point baskets in the opening minute, topped the Grizzlies (7-4, 12-7) with 21 points.
Montesano had erased the early deficit by the midpoint of the second quarter, although the Grizzlies scored the final four points of the first half to lead 27-24 at intermission. It was 38-all after three quarters.
Choate hit a 15-footer to open the fourth quarter, added one of two free throws moments later and answered an Olivia Rose free throw with a three-ball to give the Bulldogs a 44-39 lead at the 5:20 mark.
Hoquiam spent most of the final three minutes putting Monte on the foul line. The Bulldogs didn’t buckle, as Malizia, Fry, Nuckols and Choate combined to hit 11 of their team’s final 13 free throws.
“I give all the credit to Montesano. They had more energy than we did all night,” HHS coach Chad Allan said. “They were more aggressive.”
Graves, meanwhile, credited a shift to a zone defense in the second half with preventing the Grizzlies from taking the ball inside.
Hoquiam’s Chelsy Stewart, Jessica Madison, Carli Mode and Tiffani Dhooghe were honored in Senior Night ceremonies.
BOYS Grizzlies 56, Bulldogs 37
Hoquiam ran off the game’s opening 10 points and never looked back.
The Grizzlies (9-2, 16-3) hit their opening five shots. After Cole Smith converted a pass from Alex Boulden for a layin, Espedal connected on a pair of mid-range jumpers. David Sandstrom and Boulden completed the spree with layins.
Monte’s Shad Rogers momentarily stopped the bleeding with a 3-point basket, but that was the Bulldogs’ only field goal in 13 first-quarter attempts. Smith’s tip-in at the buzzer gave Hoquiam a 19-3 bulge.
“Great first quarter,” HHS coach Curtis Eccles said. “We were running really well, playing great defense, rebounding and pushing the ball.”
The game turned more than a little ragged after that. With the Grizzlies going scoreless for nearly five minutes, Kenny Roy, Rogers, Richard Smith and Matthew Jensen teamed on a 13-0 Monte run that reduced the deficit to 21-16 with 2:46 remaining in the first half.
The Grizzlies responded by scoring 10 of the first half’s final 12 points. Then Espedal intercepted the second-half inbound pass and soloed for a layin that made it 33-18. Hoquiam led by as many as 23 in the fourth quarter.
Six-foot-6 Cole Smith attained a double-double for the Grizzlies with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Espedal, 9-of-17 from the field, also snared six rebounds as Hoquiam won the boards, 42-28. Sandstrom handed out four assists.
Kenny Roy was Montesano’s lone double-digit scorer with 11 points.
Bulldog coach Doug Schupbach continued to be frustrated by his team’s frigid shooting. The Bulldogs (5-6, 10-9) were 26 percent from the field and made only 8-of-24 on free throws.
“What it comes down to is our inability to score,” Schupbach said. “It’s not like we’re taking terrible shots or they’re forcing us into bad shots.”
The Grizzlies honored volunteer assistant coach Wayne Ross, who is retiring, prior to the contest.
On Thursday, Hoquiam’s girls visit Elma, while Montesano’s boys host Rochester. The HHS boys are home against Elma on Friday, the same night Monte’s girls entertain Rochester.
MonTE 3 15 11 8 — 37 Hoq 17 14 17 8 — 56
Montesano (37) — Rogers 7, Ohashi 3, Roy 11, Bruner 4, Jensen 4, Smith 4, Nelson, Usher 2, Bialkowsky 2. FG — 13-50 (.260). FT — 8-24.
Hoquiam (56) — Sandstrom 4, Espedal 24, Lorton 5, Smith 16, Boulden 3, Newton 2, D. Kelly 2, B. Kelly, Oliver. FG — 24-53 (.453). FT — 7-10.
JV — Montesano won.
MonTE 11 13 14 22 — 60 Hoq 12 15 11 14 — 52
Montesano (60) — Floch, Nuckols 13, Choate 21, Ostwald 4, Malizia 8, Fry 14. FG — 20-59 (.339). FT — 17-24.
Hoquiam (52) — Mode 4, Dhooghe 4, Creviston 21, C. Stewart 10, Madison, Quercia 8, Rose 5, Johnson, Bradley, Doyle. FG — 20-57 (.351). FT — 8-15.