CHEHALIS – For a quarter it looked as though Montesano’s Cinderella run would end with a district crown.
However, the Bulldogs’ second-quarter scoring drought allowed Castle Rock’s undefeated Rockets to a take a lead they would never relinquish en route to a 43-32 win over the Bulldogs in the District IV girls basketball title game Saturday night at Chehalis.
The Bulldogs (15-9) will face a representative of District 1/2/3 in regional play next Fridayat 6 p.m. in Chehalis.
The opening eight minutes went according to script for the Bulldogs.
With ace Bobbi Fry attacking the passing lanes, the Bulldogs were able to use their transition game to stake out a 10-7 first quarter lead on the third-ranked Rockets.
Fry scored five of her 12 points in the first quarter, including a three from the deep right corner with: 54 seconds left in the period to break a 7-all deadlock.
“I thought we played really well early. They’re a great team and we went right with them. It was our first time on a stage like this and I was happy with our confidence early,” said Monte coach Julie Graves.
Mackinzie Malizia’s free throw 30 seconds into the second quarter gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the night at 11-7;. However, a quick five points from the Rockets put Castle Rock on top for good.
Macee Utecht sank a 3-pointer off an inbounds play and Maddi Seidl took a steal the distance in a 28-second span to put the Rockets on top, 12-11.
After a Bulldog free throw, Castle Rock used second and third-chance opportunities to put together a 7-0 run, pushing the lead to 19-12.
The Rockets held a 25-11 rebounding advantage in the first half, with Seidl grabbing 13 of her game- high 18 rebounds in the first 16 minutes.
A Megan Choate 3-pointer from the left wing with 28 seconds left in the period was Montesano’s first field goal in the frame and a Malizia putback at the buzzer gave the Bulldogs five straight to finish the half and cut the margin to 19-17.
The teams traded buckets to start the second half before six straight Castle Rock points put the game essentially out of reach for the cold-shooting Bulldogs.
Two Utecht layins and a long jumper from Nicole Seidl put the Rockets atop 29-19 with two minutes left in the third.
Monte got as close as six in the fourth but the Rockets sealed the game from the free-throw line, shooting 11-of-16 from the charity stripe in the final five minutes.
The free-throw line was not as kind to the Bulldogs. Monte shot 30 percent (6-of-20) from the free throw line, a fact that was not lost on Graves afterward.
“Fourteen missed free throws were just too much to overcome,” she said. “Our defense was playing really well, but offensively, we just couldn’t get it going.”
The Bulldogs shot just 19 percent from the floor (9-of-48). They did, however, limit the Rockets to 23 percent shooting.
Fry and Choate shared team scoring honors with 12 points. Malizia was the only other Bulldog to score, logging eight points.
M. Seidl led all scorers with 13 points; Utecht added 11 in the win.
Mon 10 7 5 10 — 32
CR 7 12 10 14 — 43
Montesano (32) — Choate 12, Floch, Fry 12, Malizia 8, Nuckols, Kloempken. FG – 9-48 (.188). FT – 6-20.
Castle Rock (43) – Dahl 4, M. Seidl 13, Uhlenkott 6, N. Seidl 9, Utecht 11, Miller. FG – 12-53 (.226). FT – 18-30.