TUMWATER — Some dormant Montesano offensive shortcomings resurfaced Saturday to prevent the Bulldogs from continuing a historic girls basketball season at state.
Limiting the Bulldogs to four field goals in the second half, King’s of Shoreline mustered just enough offense to end Monte’s season, 40-34, in a regional Class 1A girls basketball tournament game Saturday at Tumwater High School.
The Knights (21-3) advanced to the state quarterfinals beginning Thursday in Yakima. The Bulldogs, who had registered the first unbeaten regular season in school history, concluded play at 22-2. They were bidding for their first state appearance since 1999.
This was the second consecutive season that King’s had knocked off Monte in a winner-to-state, loser-out regional contest.
Unlike last year, however, when the Knights prevailed as convincingly as the 47-30 score would suggest, this was a winnable game for the Bulldogs.
They held the sixth-ranked Shoreline club to 28 percent field-goal shooting and put several Knight starters in early foul trouble. Eleven of the game’s first 13 personals were whistled against the Knights — a disparity duly noted by a howling King’s spectator contingent. Montesano did not, however, fully capitalize on the free-throw opportunities, finishing only 11-of-21 from the stripe.
And while the Bulldogs had largely conquered their traditional shooting and ball-handling woes this season, they were revisited by both difficulties Saturday. They hit only 21 percent of their field-goal tries — just 14 percent in the second half — and committed 23 turnovers.
To be sure, the Dogs had not faced a team with King’s length and pressure defense this season. The same aggressiveness that landed the Knights in foul difficulty also gave the Bulldogs fits for extended stretches.
Monte coach Julie Graves didn’t fault her team’s effort, particularly on the defensive end.
“King’s is a great team. To hold them to 40 points…(we) played a great game,” Graves said. “The girls gave it everything they had. The ball just didn’t drop in the hoop enough.”
Montesano freshman post Jordan Spradlin, double and triple-teamed nearly every time she touched the ball, still led all scorers with 20 points while pulling down 17 rebounds. Junior point guard Megan Choate, with seven points, was the only other Bulldog to tally more than four.
The Knights were more balanced, with eight players dividing up the scoring. Junior guard Savanna Hanson, most effective on driving scoop shots, paced the winners with 11 points.
After trailing for most of the second quarter, the Knights grabbed a 22-21 halftime lead on Maddie Nielsen’s rebound basket at the buzzer. They then blanked Monte from the field for the opening 7:13 of the second half before Spradlin’s putback broke the skein.
It was a credit to their own defense during that span that the Bulldogs never trailed by more than seven. When Spradlin opened the fourth quarter with another rebound basket and Choate followed with the game’s first 3-point basket, they were in decent position with a 32-31 deficit and 6:04 remaining.
The Bulldogs, however, didn’t score again for another five minutes. Karly Hibbard’s rebound bucket, a Daylee Hanson free throw and King’s lone trey, courtesy of Julia Berenson, gave the Knights a 38-31 advantage with 4:23 left.
Drawing Savanna Hanson’s fifth foul, Spradlin made one of two free throws with 1:12 remaining. Following a King’s turnover, the 6-foot-1 freshman converted another rebound to trim the deficit to four at 0:47.
In a scenario similar to the previous week’s district championship loss to Woodland, the Bulldogs had committed only three team fouls in the second half to that point and had to give four more in the next 14 seconds to put the Knights on the line.
Daylee Hanson (Savanna’s younger sister) hit the front end of a one-and-one with 33 seconds left, regained possession when a teammate tipped the rebound of the missed second shot back to her and again made one of two with 29 seconds remaining. Needing a pair of 3-pointers and some help in the remaining span, the Bulldogs got neither.
Myranda Floch had five rebounds and Choate a handful of steals for the Bulldogs.
Montesano’s crowd dwarfed the King’s contingent at the Tumwater gym. Graves thanked the community for its support.
With no seniors of the current roster, the future looks bright for Montesano.
While Graves made reference to the hurdle her team has yet to clear — “We don’t want to get stuck at this spot again next season,” — she also noted what this group accomplished.
“I think these kids exceeded everybody’s expectations,” said the Montesano coach. “Nobody ever expected us to go 20-0, I don’t think (the players) even expected to go 20-0…I’m proud of them.”
King’s 11 11 10 8 — 40
Montesano 10 11 5 8 — 34
King’s (40) — Berenson 7, D. Hanson 6, S. Hanson 11, Parker 4, Hibbard 6, Nielsen 2, Jones 2, H. Echelbarger 2, A. Echelbarger, Friedline. FG — 16-58 (.276). FT — 7-12.
Montesano (34) — M. Floch 4, Choate 7, Miller 1, Kloempken, Spradlin 20, S. Floch 2, Jensen. FG — 11-53 (.208). FT — 11-21.