MONTESANO — Better known for his ball-handling and defense than his scoring, Shad Rogers was far from the first choice to take the shot that determined Montesano’s postseason basketball fate.
The senior guard delivered in the clutch, however, to send the Bulldog boys to district.
Rogers’ basket with 15 seconds remaining to give Montesano an exciting 51-50 win over Castle Rock in a District IV Class 1A boys basketball qualifying game Monday night at Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.
By surviving Monday’s loser-out contest, the Bulldogs (12-9) advance to the double-elimination portion of the district 1A tourney. They’ll open against Trico League champion Kalama at 8 p.m. Thursday at Kelso.
Kenny Roy scored 18 points and Layne Bruner 14 as Monte fended off a Rocket comeback fueled by senior guard Cale Johnson. One of three brothers in the Castle Rock starting lineup, the 6-foot Johnson somehow maneuvered through tight quarters on drives to lead all scorers with 27 points.
Ten of that total came in the fourth quarter, as Castle Rock erased a 10-point deficit after three periods.
With Roy and Bruner taking the ball to the hoop aggressively, the Bulldogs actually led by as many as 11 in the third period.
Settling for mid-range jump shots, they turned cold in the fourth quarter about the same time the Rockets started heating up from the outside.
“We got stagnant in the fourth quarter, because they wanted to put the dagger in the body from a distance instead of sticking with what they were doing,” Monte coach Doug Schupbach explained.
Johnson tied it at 47 with a driving layin with 1:56 remaining and gave the Rockets a one-point lead by making one of two free throws at 0:56.
Montesano regained the advantage when Roy made a twisting short-range jumper 12 seconds later.
On the verge of being whistled for a five-second call on an inbound pass, Cale Johnson found his freshman brother Brock flashing across the key for a short jumper that put Castle Rock back on top with 30 seconds left. The Bulldogs called time at 0:25.
The final play, according to Schupbach, was designed to go to Roy. The 6-foot-2 junior did receive a pass on the left low block, but momentarily fumbled the ball. He kicked it back out to Rogers, who fired from the vicinity of the foul line.
The shot bounced off the front rim and glass before settling in the basket.
“He’s confident enough to shoot it,” Schupbach noted. “That’s the good thing about seniors.”
Tightly guarded by Ben Ohashi, Cale Johnson launched an off-balance jumper from the right of the key in the waning seconds. The shot was a trifle long and Bruner rebounded as time expired.
Although both teams played man-to-man defense, the Bulldogs were able to take the ball inside with far more frequency in the first three quarters. While they didn’t always finish their close-in attempts, they were often able to rebound their misses.
The Rockets, in contrast, used much of the shot clock before eventually casting from the perimeter.
Bruner scored 12 points in the second quarter — including eight in the final three minutes — as the Bulldogs closed out the first half on a 13-2 run. That gave Monte a 32-23 lead at the end of a half that contained seven ties and eight lead changes.
Ohashi grabbed eight rebounds, while Bruner snared seven and Roy six.
Schupbach said his club’s defense on Cale Johnson was better than the numbers might indicate.
“Give credit to Cale,” said the Montesano coach. “Ben was in his face all night long.”
CR 10 13 10 17 — 50
Mon 10 22 11 8 — 51
Castle Rock (50) — C. Johnson 27, B. Johnson 5, T. Johnson 6, Elf 4, Moore 4, Williamson, Klingberg 4, Althauser. FG — 19-58 (.328). FT — 7-10.
Montesano (51) — Rogers 4, Ohashi 6, Roy 18, Bruner 14, Jensen 5, Ibabao, Smith 4. FG — 21-50 (.420). FT — 7-11.