TUMWATER — Even after a flawless defensive first quarter, the best was yet to come for Montesano’s girls.
Blasting off to a 13-0 lead after one period, the Bulldogs clinched a regional berth while advancing to the district championship game for the first time in school history by stunning sixth-ranked Woodland, 45-26, in the semifinals of the District IV Class 1A girls basketball tournament Tuesday night at Tumwater’s Black Hills High School.
Unable to find its shooting touch, short-handed Elma was eliminated by Rochester, 44-33, in a loser-out contest earlier in the night.
Only the fifth-seeded team from the Evergreen 1A League, Montesano (15-8) will face unbeaten, third-ranked Castle Rock for the district championship at 8 p.m. Saturday at Chehalis.
Regardless of the results of that contest, Monte is guaranteed a place in regionals Feb. 22. This will be its first post-district appearance since 1999.
Elma concluded its season at 17-6.
Bulldogs 45, Beavers 26
Senior Bobbi Fry collected 15 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, four steals and even blocked four shots in helping the Bulldogs upend a Woodland team that entered the contest with a 19-2 record.
On this occasion, however, Fry had to share the spotlight with Montesano’s defense.
Traditionally a strong defensive club, the Bulldogs ran a triangle-and-two, with Megan Choate assigned to guard Woodland scoring leader Sidra Malik and Myranda Floch shadowing talented freshman Jessica Flanagan. Malik and Flanagan wound up scoring two points apiece.
Six-one sophomore McKenna Mulder did some damage on lob passes and putbacks in leading Woodland with 12 points. But aside from a pair of 3-point baskets, the Beavers made almost nothing from outside of three feet and wound up shooting 16 percent from the field.
The Bulldogs were also more efficient offensively than their relatively low scoring total would suggest. They tallied only four points in the fourth quarter after the outcome had been decided.
Until then, they displayed excellent ball movement in finding the open person for high-percentage shots.
Mackinzie Malizia added 11 points and Choate eight points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
“I think we’ve been playing with more confidence (lately),” Monte coach Julie Graves said after receiving post-game hugs from seemingly half the remaining spectators. “We’ve been more patient, taking care of the ball better and taking what the defense gives us.”
After coming from behind in their first two district victories, the Bulldogs needed only a quarter to take command last night.
While Woodland was going 0-for-18 from the field, Fry was tallying six points in the opening stanza. Malizia’s 3-point basket from the left corner closed out the quarter with the Bulldogs on top 13-0.
The Beavers briefly trimmed the deficit to eight early in the second period before Choate connected from inside the key and Justine Nuckols followed with a pair of baskets. It was 25-13 at the half.
After converting a pass from Choate to open the second half, Fry twice fed Floch for layins to extend the margin to 18. Woodland was never closer than 14 the rest of the way.
Warriors 44, Eagles 33
With leading scorer Megan Finger (ruptured Achilles tendon) and reserve post Regan Wollen (ankle injury) both on crutches, Elma couldn’t generate enough firepower against Rochester in a ragged elimination contest.
Languishing below the .100 mark (3-of-31) in field-goal shooting at one stage, the Eagles improved only slightly to .206. They also hit only 6-of-20 free throws and were guilty of 22 turnovers.
Brooke Goldsmith’s conventional three-point play gave Elma an early 5-2 lead. But badly off-target in their perimeter shooting, the Eagles didn’t score from the field again until the final 29 seconds of the first half.
Although missing some opportunities to put the East County crew away (missing five consecutive free throws at one stage), Rochester surged late in the half to a 21-8 lead at intermission.
Elma freshman Maddie Thompson provided a temporary spark by nailing consecutive 3-point shots late in the third quarter to cut Rochester’s lead to 29-17.
Although their swarming defense forced 11 Warrior turnovers in the fourth quarter, the Eagles also sent Rochester to the foul line with regularity in the final stanza. With Keeli Demers hitting 5-of-8 free throws in the final eight minutes, Elma never came closer than the final margin.
Demers put down three 3-pointers earlier to lead all scorers with 20 points. Joni Lancaster added 13 for the young Warriors (14-8), a vastly improved club that started a freshman, three sophomores and a junior.
Thompson scored 10 points for the Eagles before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Goldsmith checked in with nine points for the Evergreen 1A League champions.
“My girls had an amazing season, winning a league championship,” Elma coach Lisa Johnson said. “We did not play with the heart and passion of an Elma basketball team in the first half tonight (but) I’m so very proud of the league championship my girls busted their butts for.”
She thanked assistant coach Bryan Schneider, longtime volunteer assistant Mack Moxley, her seniors and other team members and her family.
Wood 0 13 8 5 — 26 Monte 13 12 16 4 — 45
Woodland (26) — Grell 2, Mulder 12, Flanagan 2, S. Malik 2, Trice 3, Kern 3, Collins, A. Malik, Adams, Cochran 2. FG — 11-69 (.159). FT — 2-5.
Montesano (45) — Floch 6, Nuckols 5, Choate 8, Fry 15, Malizia 11, Ostwald, Klompken, Jensen, Howard, Schurr, Miller. FG — 20-50 (.400). FT — 4-9.
Roch 9 12 14 9 — 44 Elma 5 3 11 14 — 33
Rochester (44) — Lancaster 13, Seymour 9, Keeli Demers 20, Kessa Demers, Althauser 2, Justice. FG — 12-41 (.293). FT — 17-33.
Elma (33) — Goldsmith 9, Cristelli 1, McDonald 4, Smythe, Pacheco, M. Thompson 10, Cooper 4, A. Thompson, Farrar, Malmstrom 5. FG — 12-58 (.207). FT — 6-20.