Taking advantage of a long-range shooting display by Ronnie Espedal in the first half and stellar team defense in the second half, Hoquiam’s boys opened their basketball season in impressive fashion.
Espedal scored 18 points to lead the Grizzlies past North Mason, 52-34, in a non-league game Monday at Hoquiam Square Garden.
North Mason’s Riley McKean hit a trey early in the third quarter that cut Hoquiam’s lead to 31-27, but the Bulldogs were unable to pull any closer for the rest of the game.
After McKean’s 3-pointer, a low post bucket by Joel Brydon sparked a 10-3 Grizzlies run that lasted most of the third quarter, and earned Hoquiam its first double digit lead of the game, 41-30. Brydon, Espedal, David Sandstrom, Cody Parker, and Cole Smith all scored for the Grizzlies during that stretch.
Hoquiam held North Mason to 10 points on four field goals in the second half. The Bulldogs shot just 13.8 percent from the field after halftime.
“We just recognized some of their shooters from the first half, and really stressed the importance of shutting them down, and communicating a little better on defense,” said Hoquiam head coach Curtis Eccles. “The guys did a great job, and were actually more aggressive in the second half. That prevented (North Mason) from getting many good looks.”
Hoquiam led for most of the first half, but never held more than a nine-point advantage.
Espedal carried the Hoquiam offense in the first half. The senior point guard scored 16 points, and knocked down four 3-pointers before the break, and the Grizzlies took a 29-24 advantage into the locker room at halftime. Espedal finished the game with 18 points, three assists, and two steals.
“Ronnie Espedal did a good job of hitting some shots early to draw the defenders out,” said Eccles. “That allows our big guys, like Cole Smith and Joel Brydon, to post up down low, and get off some shots in the paint. Our focus is to get the ball down low, but at the same time, I have a lot of confidence in our guards to take the open shots.”
Smith played a big role offensively down the stretch. The senior post player scored eight of his 12 points in the last nine minutes. Smith also pulled down nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
Eccles was also pleased with the performance of senior forward Cody Parker, who scored nine points and grabbed nine boards in the game.
“Cody Parker came off the bench and did a phenomenal job on both sides of the ball” said Eccles. “He had some key rebounds, and a few assists as well. He had probably the best all-around game for us.”
Hoquiam will host Ocosta on Wednesday
NM 10 14 8 2 — 34 HOQ 16 13 12 12 — 52
North Mason (34) – Allen, Burggraaf, Cabana, Daley 11, Davenport 2, Duckworth 3, McKean 9, Mincy, Price 4, Becker, Rowland 5. FG – 14-55 (.255). FT – 2-8.
Hoquiam (52) – Erickson, Sandstrom 8, Espedal 18, Lorton, Kelly 2, Parker 9, Ventar, Smith 12, Brydon 3. FG – 19-45 (.422). FT – 8-16.
JV – Hoquiam 45, North Mason 29.