This Friday night edition of the Aberdeen-Hoquiam boys basketball rivalry added a strange chapter to the history books at Hoquiam Square Garden.
So, if the shot clocks malfunction, Hoquiam assistant coach Ed Dawson is required to take a big stick to dislodge a basketball and the game officials have to put time on the clock in the final moments, chances are Hoquiam will prevail.
Junior guard Evan Newton sank one free throw with 6.2 seconds left to put Hoquiam up by four before Aberdeen hit a last-chance 3-point shot in the Grizzlies’ 52-51 non-league win over the Bobcats.
The game officials, after Aberdeen coaches erupted in horror that the game clock expired well past the ball falling through the net, put three-tenths of a second back on the scoreboard clock. Hoquiam’s Joel Brydon’s football pass to the far end of the court allowed time to expire on the Grizzlies’ seventh consecutive win.
“That was one of the craziest finishes of an Aberdeen-Hoquiam rivalry game,” HHS head coach Curtis Eccles said. “I know there have been last-second shots, but this one went back-and-forth. Hats off to Aberdeen. They hit some shots at the end and so did we.”
“That was a great high school basketball game,” AHS head coach Leonard Barnes said.
Aberdeen (4-8), playing its third game in four days, kept to its defensive ways, but only executed offensively in spurts. Hoquiam (9-5) readjusted in the second half and, coincidentally, went on a 10-0 run after the gym’s shot clock malfunctioned — twice — and was shut off for good in the third quarter.
The run erased a 24-19 halftime lead for the Bobcats, who only hit 2-of-11 in the frame. The visitors also misfired at the free-throw line — another trend on the night — at 6-for-11 in the quarter.
The Grizzlies’ transition game, even without a shot clock, allowed them to double up their offensive output in the third quarter on 9-for-13 shooting. The half-court game Hoquiam relied upon this season was swallowed up by Aberdeen’s stout defensive effort in the first half and in spots in the fourth quarter.
“Aberdeen did a great job on defense in its zone, so we talked about moving the ball around and breaking down that defense,” Eccles added. “The guys got more motion and finished. That was key. We missed some big shots in the first half that we were able to hit in the second half. Aberdeen played a phenomenal game. It was just one of those games where someone had to win. It came down to the last 30 seconds.”
With a 38-34 lead after three, Hoquiam had to get the stick out with 7:23 remaining. On a Newton drive and layup, the ball bounced hard on the fulcrum of the basket straight up and over the backboard. The ball nestled between the post and the shot clock, requiring Dawson’s intervention to get it out.
Austin Floch’s driving layup tied the game at 38-38 with 6:06 left and the game was afoot. Both teams traded baskets, free throws and turnovers to grab brief and slim leads down the stretch.
Two straight driving layups by Floch gave the Bobcats a 48-44 lead with 3:16 left. The Grizzlies responded by forcing two AHS turnovers and scoring five straight points — a layup and a free throw by Newton and an offensive-rebound putback by Brydon — for a 49-48 lead with 1:29 left.
Following an Aberdeen timeout, Floch missed a 3-point shot, but the Bobcats got the ball back on a held ball with 35.2 seconds left. Working against the Hoquiam defense, the Bobcats got a drive from Cole Edwards into the paint. Hoquiam’s Blake Kelly blocked the shot to ignite a fast- break transition down-court.
Freshman guard Jerod Steen took the ball down and dished to Newton open for a layup and a 51-48 lead with 19.6 seconds left. Edwards missed a 3-point shot on Aberdeen’s next possession and Newton was fouled on the rebound.
Newton hit the front-end free throw, then missed the second after an AHS timeout. Floch took the ball down and hit a 3-point shot with just under one second left to set off the final discussion and series on the clock.
Aberdeen’s defense was front and center in the first quarter, pushing the offense forward for a 14-4 first-quarter lead. Offensive rebounds and layups on steals, not to mention two game-starting treys from Edwards and Floch, helped matters.
The Bobcats led by as much as 13 — 21-9 — with 5:33 left in the first half. The Grizzlies knuckled down on defense to hold the visitors to three points for the remainder of the half. Aberdeen’s misses on the free-throw line — 1-for-9 in the first half, 10-for-24 for the game — also helped.
“The difference in the game for us was 10-for-24 shooting from the free-throw line, three games in four nights against three tough opponents,” Barnes added. “We were tired. We played so hard on defense — the defense was good enough (to win) — but we had tired legs. If we’d hit those free throws, it would have been a different ball game. Hoquiam would have been playing from behind late.”
Jace Varner, Camden Anderson and Steen provided the offense in the final minutes to inch Hoquiam closer at halftime.
Newton and Floch shared game-high scoring honors with 17 points each. Newton added nine rebounds and four steals for Hoquiam, while Blake Kelly had eight rebounds and six blocked shots. Follett scored all 12 of his points in the second half and Lorenzo Ontiveros pulled in eight rebounds for Aberdeen.
On Tuesday, Aberdeen travels to Black Hills and Hoquiam hosts Rainier.
Aberdeen (51) — Campbell 3, Edwards 7, Follett 12, Floch 17, Schlesser, Cheema, Black 4, Ontiveros 4, Taylor 2, Craig 2. FG — 18-43 (.419). FT — 10-24.
Hoquiam (52) — B. Kelly 2, Newton 17, D. Kelly 4, Steen 6, Adams 7, Varner 8, Anderson 2, Brydon 6. FG — 22-50 (.440). FT — 7-11.
JV — Aberdeen 60, Hoquiam 35.
C Squad — Aberdeen 45, Hoquiam 44. Ryan Solan 12 points for AHS.