OYEHUT — Willapa Valley head coach John Peterson is quick to tell you that he had no hand in any of his career coaching wins and the credit should go to his players.
On Thursday night, the Vikings reinforced his notion against North Beach.
Keeping its defense going throughout, Valley hit a game-clinching run in the third quarter to pull away from North Beach to secure a 62-45 Pacific League boys basketball win at the “House of Pain.”
For Peterson, the result was his 300th career victory in 21 years of coaching boys basketball.
“I don’t have anything to do with that, except coach the kids,” Peterson said. “I’ve been blessed. I am the same coach that came to Valley with a 32-71 record coming from the Skagit Valley. I didn’t make one basket. I didn’t pull in one rebound. I just ran into a fantastic group of kids and I feel really, really blessed to coach this long and coach the kind of kids that I’ve coached.”
“Too bad it had to be here,” North Beach head coach Larry Moore laughed. “John’s a great coach. It doesn’t surprise me that he has 300 wins. He’s been at this a long time and his kids ran his stuff well. At the beginning of the game, we tried to play too fast, too many turnovers. We simmered down, made some open threes, but the second half, they took it to us physically, mentally, coaching. We just didn’t react to their physical play in the second half.”
Valley’s defense got rolling in the first half, forcing several last-second shots from North Beach (5-4, 8-7) as the shot clock wound down. However, the Hyaks’ shooters found their long-range touch early, hitting 6-for-12 from behind the 3-point arc in the first half.
The Hyaks’ Corey Thornton hit three of his team’s six treys in the half, including his final bomb with 2:09 left in the second quarter to trim the Vikings’ lead to 25-24.
After a timeout, ninth-ranked Valley (8-1, 13-4) went back to what it did to build a 10-point lead in the first quarter — go inside. Offensive rebounds and inside jumpers by David Rockett and Stephen Camenzind scored six of the first half’s final eight points for a 31-26 Valley halftime lead.
Moore stressed the need to go inside more to his players and they followed that charge early in the third quarter. Justin Chong converted two inside baskets and Gabe Hernandez knocked down a mid-range jumper to trim the deficit to 32-31 with 5:45 left. Camezind scored three points in the frame to buffer a slow start for the Vikings.
This would be the closest North Beach would come. Rockett hit a mid-range jumper to break the drought and Chong, one of the Hyaks’ key post players, picked up his fourth foul of the contest to go to the bench for the rest of the quarter. Starting with Rockett’s jumper, the Vikings pounded the interior and got their only 3-pointer of the night from Matt Konigsberger to pace a 15-2 run and a commanding 49-34 lead after three.
Joseph Wagner was the lone Hyak to score during the Vikings’ march, a transition basket with 3:33 remaining.
In the fourth quarter, Valley continued its inside play, getting three conventional 3-point plays — two of them on inbound plays — to push the lead.
Valley was without point guard Anthony Sagen, who was ill.
“That really worried me (missing Sagen),” Peterson added. “These kids, I told them that I don’t know how good they are, but they may be the toughest group of guys I’ve coached in a long, long time. I thought we played great defense against a really good perimeter team tonight. They made some threes, but they had to earn them. We rebounded well, too.”
Camenzind led all scorers with 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists for Valley. Konigsberger added 14 points and eight rebounds and Rockett 11 points and six rebounds. Thornton led North Beach with 11 points.
On Saturday, both teams are back in play — Valley at Northwest Christian and North Beach hosts league-leading Raymond.
WV 18 13 18 13 — 62 NB 13 13 8 1 1 — 45
Willapa Valley (62) — Konigsberger 14, Ochman 2, Buchanan 8, Friese, Rockett 11, Camenzind 18, Heckard 3, Pearson 6. FG — 26-51 (.509). FT — 9-13.
North Beach (45) — Wagner 5, Thornton 11, Beck 2, Turner, Takagi, Fry 4, Gonzalez 10, Ketter, Chong 6, Bridge. FG — 19-47 (.404). FT — 1-3.