ELMA — Balanced scoring and rugged defense proved a winning combination for Elma’s boys on Tuesday night.
Leading all the way, the Eagles completed a sweep of the East County boys basketball rivalry by topping Montesano, 52-43, in an Evergreen 1A League game Wednesday night.
The win kept Elma (7-2, 9-7) in second place in the league, two games back of pacesetting Hoquiam. The Bulldogs fell to 4-5 in league and 9-8 for the season.
No Eagle scored more than 11 points Wednesday, but five tallied at least seven.
Senior guard Tyson Nauman paced the hosts with 11 points, nine of those coming in the first half. Senior guard Ryan Collin and senior forward Chance Bremer, in contrast, did most of their business in the second half. Collin scored all 10 of his points and Bremer eight of his 10 in the final two quarters.
Devon Gilman added nine points and Ray Stark seven for Elma.
“We’ve got guys who can score, it’s just a matter of getting them the ball,” Eagle coach Marvin Prince said.
Montesano’s Kenny Roy, attacking the basket effectively as usual, paced all scorers with 18 points.
For the most part, however, the Bulldogs struggled offensively against Elma’s aggressive man-to-man defense. Even with Roy making 5 of 6 field goal attempts, Monte shot only 33 percent from the field.
“They did a great job,” Montesano coach Doug Galloway said the Eagles, “and sometimes we shoot better than others.”
As expected, this intensely played affair was far more competitive than Elma’s 60-33 rout earlier this month at Montesano. The Eagles scored the game’s first four points and never trailed, but were slow to deliver the knockout punch.
Consecutive 3-point baskets by Gilman and Nauman gave Elma a 12-3 lead late in the first quarter. But the Bulldogs, shifting from a zone to a man-to-man, were able to remain within striking distance. They trailed 21-15 at the half and were still within seven, 30-23, on Kody Usher’s basket at the 4:44 mark of the third quarter.
Montesano, however, went scoreless for the remainder of the quarter. Elma closed out the period with baskets by Collin and Bremer before a three-ball by Collin increased the lead to 37-25 in the opening 36 seconds of the fourth quarter.
Up by 16, the Eagles emptied their bench in the final two minutes. The Bulldogs erupted for 10 quick points — a burst capped by Cole Nelson’s 3-point shot and Usher’s three free throws after being fouled behind the arc — to narrow the gap to eight with 19 seconds remaining before Stark’s free throw at 0:17 closed out the scoring.
The Eagles had emerged from a recent slump with a solid performance in a loss to Aberdeen on Saturday. Prince saluted his players for their work ethic in practice over the past several days.
“The main thing (tonight) was we were able to (handle) situations,” Prince said. “We were able to convert when we needed to and got some key stops.”
Bremer grabbed 10 rebounds as Elma won the boards, 40-31. Stark handed out four assists.
Usher scored nine points, while Roy and Kaleb Chastain snared six rebounds each for the Bulldogs.
Both teams return to league action Friday, with Elma hosting Rainier on Senior Night and Monte making the long trip to Forks.
Monte 5 10 8 20 — 43 Elma 12 9 13 18 — 52
Montesano (43) — Truax 5, Usher 9, Chastain 5, Roy 18, Bialkowsky, Nelson 3, Herzog 3, Hopsecger. FG — 14-42 (.333). FT — 14-26.
Elma (52) — Collin 10, Nauman 11, Stark 7, Gilman 9, Bremer 10, Lorton 1, Osgood, Emerson, Hamilton 2, Davis 2, Neary. FG — 20-51 (.392). FT — 8-17.
JV — Elma 59, Montesano 22.