MONTESANO — Hoquiam knows that its advantage comes from its height. Montesano knows that, too, but couldn’t match it basket-for-basket Friday night.
Fueled by second, third and fourth chances at the basket, the Grizzlies overcame a slow start and an off-night on offense by dominating the boards. The Bulldogs also had an off-night offensively, contributing to a 61-39 Evergreen 1A boys basketball win for Hoquiam at Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.
Senior post Cole Smith led all scorers with 20 points and 18 rebounds for Hoquiam (3-1, 10-2), which outrebounded Montesano, 54-37. Out of those rebounds, 23 of them were offensive, allowing the Grizzlies to score 24 second-chance points on the Bulldogs (2-4, 5-5).
“I thought we played a much better second half, to go out there and play the way we wanted to play tonight — getting the ball inside to our big guys,” HHS head coach Curtis Eccles said. “I wasn’t too happy with our shot selection in the first half. We knew that (Monte) struggled up at Forks with their height as well, so we were able to take advantage of that. We did some good things and, in the second half, we did a much better job of playing and running the offense.”
“More than their height was our inability to shoot,” Montesano head coach Doug Schupbach added. “My perimeter guys were 0-for-18 from the field. If you can’t score, you aren’t going to win the ballgame. We knew their big kids would score. We executed stuff, did things well, except for blocking out; but if we can’t score, we can’t press, we can’t get out and run, we can’t get into a rhythm. It makes the whole evening a frustrating time.”
A slow-starting first quarter didn’t warm up until two minutes left in the first quarter. Montesano held a brief 5-4 lead, Hoquiam was keying on getting Smith the ball down low and the pace of the game was frantic.
Then senior Ronnie Espedal hit his first of three 3-point baskets for a 10-7 lead. The trey sparked a 10-0 run, with eight of the 10 coming from Espedal, to give Hoquiam the lead for good. Espedal hit a buzzer-beater trey for a 17-7 lead.
Montesano couldn’t contain posts Smith, Alex Boulden and Joel Brydon inside the paint as the trio of big men hauled in rebounds on both ends of the court. Senior post Layne Bruner tried to single-handedly pace the Bulldogs’ offense and finished with 14 points on the night.
While the Bulldogs were off-track on their field-goal shooting, the Grizzlies got multiple chances to convert. Five of Hoquiam’s six field goals came directly off offensive rebounds in the second quarter alone. Monte stayed in the quarter by hitting 5-of-7 free-throw attempts to go with 3-pointers from Bruner and Shad Rogers.
Leading 32-21 at halftime, Hoquiam settled down, fed Smith consistently and pulled away from Montesano. A few more offensive rebound putbacks aided the cause for the 6-foot-6 senior, who scored 12 of his game-high total in the second half.
Espedal finished with 12 points and 5 assists and David Sandstrom scored seven of his 10 points in the second half for Hoquiam.
On Monday, Montesano stays home to take on South Bend. On Wednesday, Hoquiam hits the road to take on Elma.
Hoq 17 15 14 15 — 61 Monte 7 14 8 10 — 39
Hoquiam (61) — B. Kelly, Sandstrom 10, Espedal 12, Lorton, Newton 6, Parker 3, Smith 20, Guined 4, Boulden 6, Brydon. FG — 25-69 (.362). FT — 6-13.
Montesano (39) — Ibabao 3, Rogers 5, Ohashi, Roy 8, Smith 5, Nelson, Usher, Bruner 14, Bialkowsky 2, Benner 2, Jensen. FG — 14-52 (.269). FT — 8-12.