After encountering unexpectedly stiff resistance for the opening five minutes, Hoquiam’s boys shifted into another gear.
Limiting Ocosta to 11 points in the final three quarters, the Grizzlies rolled to a 72-22 victory in a non-league boys basketball game Wednesday night at Hoquiam Square Garden.
The final 8:33 was played with a running clock due to the state-mandated 40-point mercy rule. Yet first-year Ocosta head coach Jason Quinby saw plenty of encouraging signs in the game’s opening six minutes.
Playing aggressive defense and having surprising success driving on the much taller Grizzlies, the Wildcats were tied at 11 when Alex Campos stole the ball and fed Alex Herrera for a layin with 3:29 remaining in the first quarter. Hoquiam coach Curtis Eccles quickly called time.
“That (gave) them a little breather and was a reality check for them to understand you can’t just show up and win the game,” Eccles said. “(We) did a lot better job of working hard, playing good defense and pretty much doing what we expected to do against a young team.”
About a minute later, Grizzly post Cole Smith converted an inbound pass to give the Grizzlies (who never trailed) a permanent lead. That triggered a 25-2 run over the remainder of the first half.
With Hoquiam (2-0) turning up the heat on its pressure man-to-man defense, the Wildcats struggled to get off shots for the final three quarters. When they did, they were unable to connect. Quinby noted his club made exactly one jump shot — Nate Krigbaum’s 3-point basket in the third quarter — during the contest.
“Our first six minutes were great. We definitely ran out of steam,” the Ocosta coach reflected. “We’re still pretty young. We’re trying to turn around a losing tradition. But, as you can see by the first six minutes, the potential is there.”
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, got several operatives into the act.
Dominant inside, particularly in the middle two quarters, the 6-foot-6 Smith led all scorers with 18 points and even came up with five steals.
Senior guard David Sandstrom, deadly from mid-range in the first half, tallied 12 of his 14 points in the first half. He was also cited by Eccles for strong defensive play.
Several HHS reserves also had strong showings, with sophomore Evan Newton scoring 10 points, senior Evan Erickson contributing 10 rebounds and five assists and Jaycob Guined six rebounds. Junior wing Devin Kelly, a starter in this contest, matched Smith in steals with five. All 11 Grizzlies who suited up scored.
Ronnie Espedal, Hoquiam’s leading scorer in the season opener against North Mason, saw limited action last night after donating blood the previous day.
Sophomore forward Caleb Tackett topped Ocosta with seven points and was credited by Quinby with good inside play.
The Grizzlies make the short trip to Aberdeen on Friday, while the Wildcats (0-1) journey to Lake Quinault.
OCO 11 2 7 2 — 22
HOQ 17 19 25 11 — 72
Ocosta (22) — Tackett 7, Sobrera 4, Herrera 4, Bambauer 2, Benn. Rindlisbacher, Wright 2, Krigbaum 3, Campos, Anderson. FG — 9-49 (.184). FT — 3-7.
Hoquiam (72) — Sandstrom 14, Lorton 7, Kelly 1, Smith 18, Brydon 4, Erickson 3, Espedal 2, Newton 10, Parker 6, Ventar 5, Guined 2. FG — 29-56 (.518). FT — 11-17.
JV — Hoquiam 72, Ocosta 25.