One quarter decided this high-spirited Aberdeen-Hoquiam non-league rivalry girls basketball game at Sam Benn Gym on Thursday night.
It took one half of basketball, however, to set it up.
The host Bobcats misfired at an alarming rate from the field in the first half, but the Grizzlies were unable to capitalize, thanks to Aberdeen’s defense and rebounding prowess. A 21-9 third quarter, punctuated by a stanza-ending 14-0 run, sealed the deal for Aberdeen’s 50-32 win over Hoquiam.
Aberdeen senior Kiana Dixon led all scorers with 16 points and 14 rebounds, gaining most of her work inside the paint with offensive rebounds and free throws. HHS senior Vanessa Doyle was efficient, knocking down 6-of-9 shots from the field for a team-high 12 points.
“I was wondering after eight quarters — Auburn and Elma — and two quarters tonight if we had done enough shooting drills,” AHS head coach Aaron Roiko said. “In the third quarter, the energy on our press fed the basket. Once they began feeling confident in their shot, the momentum snowballed for them. It was nice to see the ball fall in in the second half.”
“I thought we played good defense, but didn’t do a good job of rebounding,” HHS head coach Mark Maxfield said. “They seemed to get every loose ball. I told the girls that this is a process. We’re going to simplify a few things. We’re not even into league yet. The league season starts Tuesday.”
Halftime must have been a tense time for both teams. Aberdeen (1-2) must have felt frustrated by the amount of shots they had created and missed — 6-for-37 from the field, including a 3-for-23 clip in the first quarter. Hoquiam (1-3) must have been frustrated as well, trailing by six, 22-16, at the half with a solid defensive effort.
The third quarter was a tit-for-tat affair, which was what Aberdeen’s needed on offense. The teams traded baskets, with Dixon getting an offensive rebound putback and two free throws, Makenna Roiko driving for two layups and Tiana Blackburn converting inside.
Hoquiam responded with a 3-point basket by Ellie Quercia, followed by inside and baseline jumpers by Mikaila Johnson and Doyle. With 5:21 left, Doyle would knocked down what turned into the Grizzlies’ final points of the stanza, cutting the deficit to 29-25.
Dixon fought through traffic for an offensive rebound putback on Aberdeen’s next possession and the quarter-ending run began in earnest. The Bobcats forced seven Grizzly turnovers in the quarter, five of them in the final five minutes, and converted easy baskets on the other end.
Nine of Dixon’s 16 points came in the third quarter, Alexxi Timmons and Roiko converted transition baskets and two free throws by Ericka Manwell ended the frame with a 43-25 lead.
“Kiana was phenomenal on the boards, Ericka stepped up and Emily Fisher got a couple of shots to fall,” coach Roiko said. “You can see the pressure fall off of them. Alexxi on defense was a spark as well. I feel much better about this game, because it gave us the confidence back to play our game.”
“I thought Aberdeen came out with more energy in the third quarter and we made some really poor decision on offense,” Maxfield said. “We also turned the ball over too many times. When you turn the ball over, you don’t get a chance to shoot. If you don’t shoot, you don’t score. “
The fourth quarter didn’t have the energy of the third. Hoquiam finally snapped its scoring drought at 9 minutes, 44 seconds on Doyle’s baseline jumper with 3:37 remaining in the game.
Hoquiam had full control of the first quarter on the scoreboard, but couldn’t find a way to keep Aberdeen from pounding the glass for offensive rebounds and second- and third-chance shots. Even with the chances, the shots didn’t fall and the Grizzlies never led by more than four points.
Aberdeen used the second quarter to take the lead at the free-throw line, hitting 7 of 8. A 14-6 quarter was punctuated by a Emily Fisher 3-point conversion from the wing and two Blackburn free throws for the 22-16 halftime score.
Fisher added 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Bobcats (1-2). Quercia pulled in nine rebounds and dished out five assists and Johnson added seven rebounds for the Grizzlies (1-3).
Tonight, Aberdeen returns to the court to host R.A. Long. On Tuesday, Hoquiam begins Evergreen 1A play at Rainier.
Hoquiam 10 6 9 7 — 32
Aberdeen 8 14 21 7 — 50
Hoquiam (32) — Quercia 3, Parker, Rose, Creviston 5, Stewart 6, Johnson 4, Sansaver 2, Doyle 12, Hilliard. FG — 14-48 (.292). (FT — 2-5.
Aberdeen (50) — Dietrich, Fisher 10, Timmons 6, Riekkola2, Dixon 16, Roiko 7, Manwell 4, Kuhn 2, Blackburn 5. FG — 16-67 (.239). FT — 17-22.
JV — Aberdeen 24, Hoquiam 21.