Hyak defense tames Tigers

MONTESANO — Working hard defensively throughout, North Beach’s boys waited the better part of three quarters for their offense to kick into gear.

In the final period, it finally did.

Reeling off 16 successive points in the fourth quarter, the Hyaks rallied past Napavine, 41-35, in the opening round of the District IV Class 2B Boys Basketball Tournament on Thursday at Montesano’s Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.

The Hyaks (13-8) will face Onalaska in a quarterfinal scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Montesano.

North Beach was effective defensively most of the way, particularly after switching to a zone midway through the first half. The Hyaks had a hand in 32 Napavine turnovers and limited the Tigers to 34 field-goal attempts.

The Hyaks, however, labored mightily against an equally tough Napavine man-to-man for much of the distance. Having difficulty even finding an open shot, they went scoreless for nearly six minutes in the first half and mustered only a single basket for the opening five minutes of the third quarter as the Tigers built a 26-15 lead.

North Beach tallied the final eight points of the third stanza to narrow the gap. Napavine still led by six, 29-23, on Jensen Lindsay’s rebound basket in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter.

The Tigers didn’t score again until the 1:03 mark, as the Hyaks forced seven turnovers in the fourth quarter.

“Our defense stepped it up,” North Beach coach Larry Moore said.

North Beach’s defense played a direct role in two key baskets during the decisive 16-0 run. Gabe Hernandez and Corey Thornton each stole the ball and soloed for layins that, sandwiched around another Hernandez close-range basket, tied it at 29 with 5:07 remaining.

Then Justin Chong banked home a shot from the right of the key with 4:13 on the clock to give the Hyaks their first lead since late in the first quarter.

Thornton nailed a 3-point basket less than a minute later to increase the margin to five. Free throws by Hernandez and Turner and Chong’s basket completed the spurt that left the Hyaks with a 39-29 lead with 1:13 left.

David Grace ended the Napavine drought with a three-ball of his own. Due in part to missed North Beach free throws, the Tigers reduced the deficit to four with 30 seconds left. Turner made two foul shots at 0:27 to close out the scoring and the game appropriately ended with another Tiger turnover.

“We couldn’t get anything going on offense because Napavine is a great defensive team and play in a great defensive league,” said Moore, savoring what has been a rare Pacific League victory over a Central League opponent in district play of late. “But I’m really proud of our kids because they really played hard.”

The smooth-working Hernandez scored 10 of his game-high 14 points in the second half. The sophomore also contributed six rebounds and four steals. Thornton finished with 10 points, four steals and four assists.

Moore credited the hustle of starter Steven Fry and reserves Mike Beck and Pedro Gonzalez with helping to energize his club in the second half.

Sidelined briefly after limping off the court late in the third quarter, Grace topped Napavine with 13 points.

Napa 9 11 6 9 — 35 NB 7 6 10 18 — 41

Napavine (35) — Doughty 2, Grace 13, Brossard 6, Kaut, Twidwell 6, Sherwood 6, Lindsay 2. FG — 14-34 (.412). FT — 4-8.

North Beach (41) — Wagner, Turner 7, Fry 4, Hernandez 14, Justin Chong 6, Thornton 10, Beck, Gonzalez. FG — 15-41 (.367). FT — 8-17.