MACLEOD PAPPIDAS | THE DAILY WORLD
Montesano’s Mackinzie Malizia drives to the basket as she evaded Woodland’s defense during a District IV girls basketball semifinal game at Black Hills High School in Tumwater on Feb. 12. The Bulldogs won the game, 45-26, to earn a regional tournament berth and a spot in the district title game. On Friday, Montesano takes on King’s of Shoreline in the Class 1A regional tournament at Chehalis.
Taholah’s girls will be returning to a familiar venue. Three other Twin Harbors teams will be entering largely uncharted territory, at least in recent years.
Four area girls basketball clubs will bid for state berths in regional tournaments scheduled for Friday at a variety of locations.
Hoquiam (15-9) will face Lynden Christian in a Region I Class 1A tournament game scheduled for 8 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School.
Montesano (also 15-9) opposes King’s of Shoreline (16-8) in the Region II 1A tourney at Chehalis. That contest is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Raymond (22-3) challenges District IV champion Pe Ell in a Class 2B regional set for 8 p.m. at Longview’s Mark Morris High School.
Bi-District 1B champion Taholah faces Mount Vernon Christian in a regional contest planned for 8 p.m. at Timberline High School in Lacey.
The Hoquiam, North Beach and Taholah boys have regional games on tap Saturday, with the Grizzlies facing Lynden Christian at Mount Vernon, North Beach taking on St. George’s at Spokane and Taholah matching up against Tulalip Heritage at Timberline. Those games will be previewed in Friday’s edition.
All regional contests are single-elimination, with the winners advancing to the final eight at state. The state 1A tournament is scheduled Feb. 28-March 2 at the Yakima SunDome. The state 2B and 1B tourneys will run concurrently the same dates at Spokane.
This will be the third successive year Taholah’s girls have participated in regionals at Timberline. They have yet to earn a state berth under the regional format, but did participate in a 16-team state tourney in 2010.
Hoquiam, Montesano and Raymond, meanwhile, will be making their first post-district appearances in several years. The Gulls last qualified for state in 2005, the Grizzlies in 2003 and the Bulldogs in 1999.
Grizzly coach Chad Allan is aware his team has a tough assignment against Lynden Christian.
“They have six girls about 5-foot-11 or taller and they use full-court pressure,” Allan said. “They’re very high-intensity, very active, have history in the program and are playing (close) to home.”
Although the Grizzlies can’t equal Lynden Christian’s size, Allan believes they can compensate in intensity.
“We’ll try to match that energy,” said the Hoquiam coach. “Our main focus is to try to be more aggressive, offensively and defensively, which is what we’ve tried to do all season.”
The Lyncs (21-3) have won 11 straight in sweeping to a I-II-III tri-district championship. While fifth in the final Associated Press Class 1A rankings, they are No. 1 in the ScoreCzar computer rankings.
Junior guard Sally Vlas scored 17 points, while Courtney Hollander grabbed 16 rebounds as Lynden Christian thumped Cascade Christian, 51-36, in the tri-district championship game.
Allan believes rebounding and ball security will be the keys Friday. The Grizzlies have experienced periodic difficulty in both areas this season, but the HHS coach is hopeful his team will regain the form it displayed in upset victories over Aberdeen and Elma this season.
Senior wing Chelsy Stewart and junior guard Brandi Creviston have led the Grizzlies in scoring this season, having entered postseason play with an identical point total. Sophomore point guard Ellie Quercia is third on the club in scoring and is also among the team leaders in assists and steals.
King’s, a frequent Montesano playoff opponent in football, stands between the unheralded Bulldogs and their first state berth in 14 years.
The Knights (16-8) finished third in a combined 2A/1A Cascade Conference and placed fourth in the tri-district tourney won by Lynden Christian.
Like the Grizzlies, the Bulldogs will be giving away height to their opponents. All five King’s starters range between 5-9 and 5-11. Sisters Savanna (a 5-11 sophomore guard) and Daylee (a 5-10 freshman) Hanson are the leading Knight scorers.
“The keys to the game for us are taking care of the ball against their length, rebounding, continuing to play tough defense, finishing our scoring opportunites and playing a complete game as a team, like we did (in a district semifinal win over) Woodland,” Monte coach Julie Graves noted.
Of the above-listed goals, defense is probably the least of Monte’s concerns. The Bulldogs have held 16 of their 24 opponents — including district champion Castle Rock — to 45 points or less this season.
After a series of above-average offensive performances, the Bulldogs struggled with their shooting against Castle Rock. Following some good early-week practices, Graves is optimistic about regaining the team’s previous form.
“We had too many unforced turnovers during the Castle Rock game and weren’t able to convert our scoring opportunities, which included open shots and free throws,” Graves said. “We know at this point we can’t let that happen again if we want to move on to the final eight. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season and aren’t ready to be done yet.”
The fifth seed out of the Evergreen 1A League, the Bulldogs rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit against Ilwaco simply to make into the main district draw, then upended Evergreen 1A champion Elma and state-ranked Woodland to reach the district championship game.
Sophomore guard Megan Choate leads Montesano in total points (286), while senior wing Bobbi Fry has the top scoring average at 13.2. Mackinzie Malizia is averaging 8.3 and Justine Nuckols 7.2 points per game for the Bulldogs.
Raymond coach Jon Schray describes second-ranked Pe Ell as “long, athletic and smart.”
The key word might be “athletic.” Seniors Alissa Brooks-Johnson and Sami Jo Robinson, the cornerstones of Pe Ell’s three-time state 2B track champions, are also the Trojans’ chief operatives in basketball.
Raymond has the unsettling task of facing a 6-footer who is clearly the fastest player on the court. Brooks-Johnson won the state 200 meters, 100 and 300 hurdles and long jump titles last spring. She’s not too shabby on the basketball court, either, averaging 16 points per game.
Robinson, the daughter of Pe Ell coach (and Willapa Valley High graduate) Dawna (Camenzind) Robinson, is the reigning state javelin champion and scores at a 14-point per game clip.
Offensively, the Gulls are led by senior Abby Maneman, who averaged 16.8 points per game during the regular season and 14.6 in postseason. Senior guard Courtney Hagain, who averaged 9.0 during the regular season, tallied at a 9.5-point average in district. Sophomore post Aiyisha Garcia was Raymond’s second-leading scoring in the regular season with a 9.5 per game average.
After finishing the regular season with a 19-game winning streak, the Gulls went 3-2 at district. Schray didn’t sound particularly concerned.
“I am mostly pleased with our performance so far in the playoffs,” said the Raymond coach. “I think the mistakes we made in our losses made us better overall. We didn’t have enough tough competition during the regular season, so now we are fighting for every game and I believe it has made us better.”
Taholah-Mt. Vernon Christian
With the exception of Taholah’s boys, no regional qualifier has experienced less action than the Chitwhin girls. Due to since-overturned sanctions that included the dissolution of the Coastal League, Taholah has taken the floor only nine times this season.
Since some of the 10 forfeits the Chitwhins received from erstwhile Coastal League members overlapped with forfeits they had to issue due to use of ineligible players, it has been impossible to accurately determine Taholah’s season record. Suffice it to say the Chitwhins have lost only two contested games — to Class 2B North Beach and 1A Forks.
Taholah coach Jerry Walther is worried about the potential impact the lack of game time might have on his young time.
“The more you’re on the court, the more you learn to play together. You don’t learn from it when you’re playing (as often) as we’re playing,” Walther said. “In another way, though, we’re not having to deal with a bunch of injuries.”
The third seed out of its district, Mount Vernon Christian’s Hurricanes are stylistically similar to Taholah.
“They’re pretty fast, they’ve got a pretty quick team,” Walther said. “They’ve got a pretty good press. They won’t keep it on if we break it, so we’ve been working on press break. We know what we can do. If we keep our heads, we’ll be fine.”
Dramikha Skaar has been Taholah’s leading scorer with a 16-point per game average. Guard Laura James, who has been averaging about 13 per game, leads the Chitwhins in steals and assists. Skaar, Marquel Waugh and Rachel Cheney are the club’s top rebounders.
At Mount Vernon: 6 p.m. — Woodland vs. Cascade Christian. 8 p.m. — Hoquiam vs. Lynden Christian.
At Chehalis: 6 p.m. — Montesano vs. King’s. 8 p.m. — Castle Rock vs. Blaine.
At West Valley (Yakima): 6 p.m. — Connell vs. University Prep. 8 p.m. — Okanogan vs. Zillah.
At Central Valley (Spokane): 6 p.m. — Columbia Burbank vs. Chelan. 8 p.m. — La Salle vs. Brewster.
At Mountlake Terrace: 6 p.m. — DeSales vs. Darrington. 8 p.m. — Onalaska vs. LaConner.
At Mark Morris (Longview): 6 p.m. — Crosspoint Academy vs. Morton/White Pass. 8 p.m. — Raymond vs. Pe Ell.
At Mount Spokane (Spokane): 6 p.m. — Lake Roosevelt vs. Northwest Christian (Colbert). 8 p.m. — Toutle Lake vs. Reardan.
At Sunnyside: 6 p.m. — Napavine vs. Riverside Christian. 8 p.m. — Colfax vs. White Swan.
At Lynnwood: 6 p.m. — St. John-Endicott vs. Tulalip Heritage. 8 p.m. — Mount Rainier Lutheran vs. Shoreline Christian.
At Timberline (Lacey): 6 p.m. — Yakama Nation vs. Republic. 8 p.m. — Taholah vs. Mount Vernon Christian.
At Eastmont (East Wenatchee): 6 p.m. — Moses Lake Christian vs. Wilber-Creston. 8 p.m. — Neah Bay vs. Pateros.
At Walla Walla: 6 p.m. — Tekoa/Oakesdale vs. Sunnyside Christian. 8 p.m. — Columbia (Hunter’s) vs. Colton.