Grays Harbor College basketball teams were equal to the challenge of facing their highly ranked Clark College counterparts, but both Penguin squads prevailed in the end.
Despite being significantly smaller, the Grays Harbor men outrebounded Clark and pushed the top-ranked Penguins to overtime. However, tough defense toward the end of the extra period enabled the visitors to escape with a 92-83 NWAACC Western Division basketball victory.
The Choker women stayed within a few possessions of the second-ranked Penguins for most of the game. However, a late scoring run by Clark widened the margin and propelled the Penguins to an 83-66 win.
MEN Penguins 92, Chokers 83
In the overtime period, Tim Straughter hit a trey from the top of the key as the shot clock was about to expire to give Grays Harbor an 80-78 lead with a little over three minutes left to play.
However, the Chokers (5-8 in conference play, 8-15 overall) only managed three points after that and the Penguins closed the game with a 14-3 scoring run.
A drive to the basket and layin by Sean Price tied the game at 80. Then a 3-pointer by Kyle Thurston with 1:40 left put Clark back on top 83-80.
The dagger came when Max Livingson hit a trey that put the top-ranked Penguins (12-0, 20-1) up 89-81 with 45 seconds left.
Despite the loss, Grays Harbor head coach Jordan Altman was pleased with his team’s performance against a formidable opponent.
“We put forth a tremendous effort,” Altman said. “We certainly played our best game of the year. There’s no question about it. I told my guys not to hang their head. We were shorter than them at every position and we outrebounded them. It was directly part of our game plan to win that category.”
With five minutes left in regulation and the Penguins in front 73-71, Grays Harbor’s Cameron Ladson stole the ball and went coast-to-coast for a layup to tie the game at 73. Ladson scored 15 points in the game. The freshman guard also led the Chokers with five assists and three steals.
After a Clark turnover on the ensuing possession, Bryan McGriff hit a deep, contested jump shot from the baseline on the left side to give Grays Harbor the lead, 73-71. McGriff finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, both game-highs.
The Penguins responded with a 5-0 run that consisted of two free throws by Price, and a low post bucket and one free throw by Ronald Elksnis that gave Clark a 76-71 lead.
With just under two minutes left in the game, Grays Harbor’s K.C. Harrison gathered an offensive rebound and nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, tying the game at 76. Those proved to be the final points of regulation.
WOMEN Penguins 83, Chokers 66
Clark (11-1, 19-3) closed the first half with an 11-2 scoring run that pushed their lead to 44-31. Brooke Bowen led the charge for the Penguins during that stretch with five of her game-high 26 points. The sophomore also led Clark with 13 rebounds.
However, Grays Harbor (1-12, 3-19) came out strong in the second half. The Chokers chipped away at the Penguins’ lead and cut it to 69-63 when Bianca Russell scored on a second-chance opportunity with a little over six minutes left.
Russell finished with 13 points and pulled down a game-high 17 boards. The sophomore forward was cited by Choker head coach Christine Nelson for her effort and all-around play.
Five different players scored during a 14-3, game-closing run for Clark. SirRenahdi Battle led the way with four, Haley Grossman and Nicolette Bond each chipped in three, Bowen and Shantell Jackson each scored two during that stretch.
“We were outsized and they killed us inside,” Nelson said. “We played a great game. (Our players) came in prepared, played hard and did the things we asked. (Clark) pushed the ball, pressed and threw six different defenses at us. We did a pretty good job of adjusting for the most part. They just hit a few more shots than we did.”
The Chokers will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to Green River.
Clark (92) – Golden 1, Thurston 8, Hall 9, Price 19, Patterson, Livingston 19, Hall 11, Elksnis 9, Spickerman 16. FG – 28-67 (.418). FT – 26-36.
Grays Harbor (83) – Porter 2, Harrison 11, Larkins 7, Kolokihakausfisi, Ladson 15, Harrod 2, Irion 5, Straughter 12, McGriff 24, Dutton 5. FG – 32-73 (.438). FT – 8-17.
Halftime: Clark 44, Grays Harbor 36.
Clark (83) – McKee 4, Battle 10, Bitanga 2, Howlett 1, Grossman 16, Bowen 26, Jackson 13, Bond 7, Smmith 2, Brown 2. FG – 34-67 (.507). FT – 12-20.
Grays Harbor (66) – Maneman 5, Chovich 7, Cox 21, Robles, Koe 2, Fifield 9, Stewart 9, Russell 13. FG – 23-60 (.383). FT – 15-19.
Halftime: Grays Harbor 44, Grays Harbor 31.