Hoquiam’s boys quickly took care of business to successfully conclude what their coach described as “Season One.”
The remainder of Elma’s season, meanwhile, hinges on a single game tonight.
Ronnie Espedal scored 21 points as the Grizzlies doubled up on the Eagles, 60-30, in an Evergreen 1A League boys basketball finale Friday night at Hoquiam Square Garden.
The Grizzlies (10-2, 17-3) wound up second in the league and will open district 1A competition Thursday night at Chehalis.
“Like I told (the players), this is the end of Season One and we’re going to start Season Two,” HHS coach Curtis Eccles said.
Elma (2-10, 2-17) tied with Rainier — a 48-42 loser to league champion Tenino — for the league’s sixth and final postseason berth. The Eagles and Mountaineers will play off at 7 tonight at Rochester, with the winner advancing to a district-qualifying game Monday. The loser will be eliminated.
One of six Grizzlies honored during Senior Night ceremonies, Espedal excelled in his final home appearance. Doing most of his damage on drives, he tallied 14 of his points in the first half. He also contributed six rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Two other HHS seniors also had noteworthy roles. Six-foot-six post Cole Smith finished with 13 points and four blocked shots, while Alex Boulden had three steals to go with his eight points.
No Eagle scored more than six points, with power forward Chance Bremer and guard Ryan Collin mustering that total.
Elma owned a 36-26 rebounding advantage, but the Eagles struggled mightily offensively against Hoquiam’s aggressive man-to-man defense. The Eagles shot only 23 percent from the field and committed 27 turnovers.
The outcome was essentially decided in the first 14 minutes.
Taking the ball to the hoop with authority, the Grizzlies made their first three shots and connected on 7 of 12 from the field in the opening quarter in grabbing a 17-5 lead at the first buzzer.
The Eagles, conversely, turned it over 10 times in that period while making only two of their nine attempts — a development that had Elma coach Marvin Prince shifting personnel at almost every dead ball.
“We wanted to give them pressure,” Eccles said. “We were able to create some turnovers and make some shots and we did that.”
“I didn’t have them prepared to play,” a solemn Prince said. “Blame it all on coaching. We didn’t prepare the kids to play the game.”
The Eagles showed signs of life early in the second quarter. They closed the deficit to seven, at 23-16, when Collin put down a three-ball from the left wing with 3:03 remaining in the first half.
Smith, however, converted a lob pass from Boulden and Espedal drove for a layin to trigger a run of 11 successive Hoquiam points to end the first half. Up 34-16 at intermission, the Grizzlies opened the third quarter with a pair of Boulden baskets and a two David Sandstrom free throws. They cruised the rest of the way.
Evan Newton came off the bench to score nine points for Hoquiam.
Prince cited Jason Sayler, one of only three Elma seniors, with fine play and hustle.
Espedal, Smith, Boulden, Sandstrom and Jaycob Guined were recognized in Senior Night festivities. A sixth senior, Cody Parker, is recovering from surgery and was unable to attend.
Elma 5 11 4 10 — 30 Hoq 17 17 9 17 — 60
Elma (30) — Collin 6, Farr 2, Nauman 2, Bremer 6, Wilson 5, Sayler 3, Stark, Riffe 2, Z. Osgood, Stevens 2, Davis 2, S. Osgood. FG — 11-48 (.229). FT — 5-10.
Hoquiam (60) — Sandstrom 2, Espedal 21, Lorton, Smith 13, Boulden 8, Newton 9, D. Kelly 4, B. Kelly, Oliver 3. FG — 22-46 (.478). FT — 14-19.
JV — Elma 37, Hoquiam 34. Seth Osgood eight points for Elma. Kyle Standstipher and Tyler White eight points each for Hoquiam.