Even with their big gun sidelined, the Grays Harbor College men possessed enough weapons to end a home-court drought.
Five players scored in double figures as the Chokers held off South Puget Sound, 83-78, in an NWAACC Western Division men’s basketball game Monday night at Sam Benn Gym.
Betrayed by glacial shooting in the second half, the Grays Harbor women fell to the Clippers, 82-59, in the first half of the coed doubleheader.
For the Choker men (5-7, 8-14), who have actually experienced more success on the road, this was their first home-court victory since early January.
Chokers 83, Clippers 78
Bryan McGriff, Grays Harbor’s leading scorer, missed this contest with a sprained foot. He is expected to be ready for GHC’s next contest at home against Clark College on Wednesday.
Even with McGriff absent, the Chokers had far too much depth for a South Puget Sound club (2-11, 2-19) that suited up only seven players and had just six see action.
Freshman center Tim Straghter, who scored 10 of his team’s opening 14 points, finished with 16 to share GHC scoring honors with sophomore Jordan Dutton. The latter came off the bench to knock down four 3-pointers.
When Straghter and Dutton cooled in the second half, guards Cameron Ladson, K.C. Harrison and Sammy Porter picked up the slack. Harrison scored all 10 of his points in the final 20 minutes, while Porter had 10 of his 15 in the same span. The steady Ladson also tallied 15 points.
“It really took a team effort and, at different points of the ball game, everybody contributed something,” Choker coach Jordan Altman said. “But we’re still lacking a killer instinct.”
In truth, this victory probably should have been easier.
Making a concerted effort, in McGriff’s absence, to accelerate the tempo, the Chokers led 36-26 at the half and by as many as 20 (60-40) with less than 10 minutes remaining.
South Puget Sound, which had experienced little success shooting from the perimeter, then began used guards Slanblaytee Kaye and Jonathan Roberts to drive to the hoop on virtually every possession. Kaye scored 22 of his game-high 32 points in the second half, while Roberts finished with 24 points — 20 of those after intermission.
The Clippers whittled the margin to five on a Kaye three-point play with 1:59 remaining. Grays Harbor’s Bryan Irion then made one of two free throws, Straghter tossed in an off-balance one-hander and Porter stole the ball for a breakaway lay-in that made it 77-67 with 57 seconds left.
South Puget Sound responded by rallying to within four when Roberts converted all ends of a three-shot foul. Only five seconds remained at that stage, however, and Harrison made one of two foul shots two seconds later to close out the scoring.
Straghter also pulled down 12 rebounds. Irion and To’a Kolokihakausfisi each handed out five assists.
Clippers 82, Chokers 59
Scrapping back from a 31-14 deficit, the Chokers (1-11, 3-18) seemed to have momentum in their favor when they narrowed South Puget Sound’s lead to 39-33 at the half.
Grays Harbor, however, went the opening 6:17 of the second half without a field goal. Although an abundance of free throws kept the Chokers within striking distance for a time (they trailed by only eight with seven minutes left), their marksmanship from the field never improved.
“We were 5-of-32 (from the field) in the second half,” Grays Harbor coach Christine Nelson exclaimed after examining the final statistics. “I would have liked to have seen us play better defense than we did at times. But when you shoot 15 percent, it doesn’t matter what type of defense you play.”
Emily Cox, one of the few Chokers to shoot a decent percentage, paced GHC with 15 points. Guard Marlee Chovich added 13.
Grays Harbor’s Bianca Russell mustered a double-double — 11 points and 10 rebounds — despite hitting only 2 of 12 from the floor.
Tumwater High grad LaKeisha Anger topped South Puget Sound with 29 points. Former Rainier standout Ashley Stancil added 20 points, including seven straight after the Chokers narrowed the gap to eight in the second half.
North Beach High alum Wakeena DeLaCruz, who did much of South Puget Sound’s ball-handling, contributed five points and six assists. Dramikha Skaar, who played at both North Beach and Taholah, had six points for the Clippers. Raymond grad Macy Karlsvik saw brief action for the visitors.
The Chokers will host powerful Clark teams on Wednesday.
South Puget Sound (82) — Anger 29, Stancil 20, DeLacCruz 5, Jesse 5, Guerra 17, Karlsvik, Skaar 6, Clayton. FG — 31-69 (.449). FT — 14-20.
Grays Harbor (59) — Maneman 7, Chovich 13, Cox 15, Robles 3, Koe 2, Fifield 6, Stewart 2, Russell 11. FG — 18-66 (.273). FT — 18-29.
Halftime: South Puget Sound 39, Grays Harbor 33.
South Puget Sound (78) — Tyson 2, Roberts 24, Kaye 32, Liebelt 14, McGurkin 6, Logan. FG — 27-61 (.443). FT — 17-26.
Grays Harbor (83) — Porter 15, Harrison 10, Ladson 15, Irion 9, Straghter 16, Dutton 16, Burton, Larkins 2, Kolokihakausfisi, Harrod. FG — 28-63 (.444). FT — 19-26.
Halftime: Grays Harbor 36, South Puget Sound 26.