MONTESANO — Opening its schedule one week after the football team claimed the state 1A title, Montesano got a test from Willapa Valley to greet it on the basketball court.
Using their rebounding skills and defensive hustle in the second half, the Bulldogs overcame a halftime deficit and set up Layne Bruner’s eventual game-winning 3-point basket to edge out the Vikings, 40-39, in this non-league boys basketball game at Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.
Senior forward Stephen Camenzind led all scorers with 14 points for Valley. Bruner led Montesano with 12 points and seven rebounds and Ben Ohashi added 11 points and eight rebounds.
“Valley is a good team, don’t take anything away from them,” Montesano head coach Doug Schupbach said. “My concern wasn’t our defensive effort, but if we could score enough points — we did. I told the kids at the pre-game that our effort and our defense was going to keep us in the game. If we do the little things on the offensive side, things would work out and they did.”
“Maybe, overall, this might have been our most complete game,” Willapa Valley head coach John Peterson said. “Monte’s athletic and we know they aren’t in basketball shape yet, but they have some high-quality athletes. I thought our kids hung right there with them. One of the reasons why we play this game is to play against other athletic people like Montesano. You have to give to give them credit for how hard they played and credit to our kids for playing as hard as they did.”
The Vikings held a 32-30 lead after three quarters. The teams were never separated by more than two points for the entire fourth quarter and there were five lead changes. David Rockett’s mid-range jumper with 3:25 left gave Valley a 38-37 lead. Matt Konigsberger hit just 1-of-2 free throws with 2:11 left for a 39-38 edge and Rockett got the ball back on an offensive rebound.
Valley, however, missed two inside shots, giving Monte a chance to counter. After a 30-second timeout called by Schupbach, the teams traded misses. Rockett grabbed another offensive rebound to give the Vikings another chance, but the shot was missed with 1:05 left.
With play getting ragged, Bruner found plenty of space on the left wing to fire up a 3-point shot that hit nothing but net with 51.1 seconds remaining for a 40-39 lead. It was Bruner’s second trey of the frame and the game for Monte.
An offensive foul stopped Valley’s next possession and Montesano, following a timeout, turned the ball over with 14.6 seconds left. This allowed the Vikings the final shot of the contest, which was called during the previous timeout.
Valley worked the ball around the perimeter and it came back to Camenzind at the top of the key. His 3-point shot at the buzzer came off the iron to end the contest.
Montesano (1-0), with nine of its 12 players coming off the football field right into basketball practice, was still working out the kinks in a 14-7 first quarter over Valley (3-2). The rust showed in the second quarter, which was dominated by the Vikings.
Getting out and running in transition, Valley erased the seven-point deficit and turned it into a six-point lead with a 15-2 run with 1:16 left in the half — at 22-16. Matthew Jensen’s mid-range jumper snapped Monte’s 0-for-10 field-goal shooting drought and Tucker Ibabao’s 3-pointer later kept it close in a 24-19 Valley halftime lead.
The Vikings’ Anthony Sagen powered the offense early in the quarter, then saw teammates Rockett, Camezind and Randy Heckard score inside to extend the lead. Sagen and Heckard earned praise from Peterson for their overall play.
Adjustments at halftime for Montesano were simple — keep working. The third quarter turned the Bulldogs way on that premise, even if the regained lead was shortlived.
The Bulldogs didn’t shoot well again, struggling from the field with no field goals in the final 3:41 of the quarter. However, the hosts used their defense and rebounding to keep the Vikings from capitalizing. Montesano pulled in nine of its 11 offensive rebounds in the game in the frame and limited Valley to just six points during its scoring drought. Rockett scored all eight of the Vikings’ points in the quarter, including two free throws late for a 32-30 lead.
Today, Montesano begins Evergreen 1A play with a trip to Rainier. On Thursday, Willapa Valley takes on Ocosta in a Pacific League opener.
WV 7 17 8 7 — 39
Monte 14 5 11 10 — 40
Willapa Valley (39) — Sagen 7, Konigsberger 4, Buchanan 2, Friese, Rockett 6, Camenzind 14, Heckard 4, Pearson. FG — 17-52 (.327). FT — 4-10.
Montesano (40) — Ibabao 5, Rogers 2, Ohashi 11, Roy 7, Smith, Nelson, Usher, Bruner 12, Jensen 3. FG — 16-52 (.308). FT — 2-8.
JV — Willapa Valley 57, Montesano 48.
C Squad — Montesano 36, Willapa Valley 27.