OYEHUT — Clutch play after clutch play made for an intense matchup between two of the Pacific 2B League’s top boys teams on Friday night.
Thanks to a second-half defensive adjustment and some late-game heroics by senior wing Corey Thornton, North Beach edged Willapa Valley 64-62 in overtime at North Beach’s “House of Pain.”
The final nine minutes of the game — the end of the fourth quarter and the overtime period — featured three ties and five lead changes. In the end, the Hyaks maintained their unbeaten record by handing the Vikings their first league loss this season.
With just under one minute left in regulation, a free throw by Matt Konigsberger put Valley up 52-47.
However, Thornton took the ball down the floor for the Hyaks and drilled a deep, contested 3-pointer from beyond the left elbow to cut the Vikings’ lead to 52-50.
Thornton then stole the ball at around midcourt and fed it to a streaking Pedro Gonzales, who converted a layup to tie the game at 52 with 38 seconds remaining. Each team missed one open look to close regulation.
With 37 seconds left in overtime and Valley trailing 62-59, Konigsberger drilled a deep trey that tied the game up once again. The senior forward finished with a game-high 27 points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
With six seconds left in overtime and the score tied at 62, Thornton sunk two free throws to give North Beach a two point advantage. The Hyaks defense prevented the Vikings (2-1 in league play, 6-3 overall) from getting a shot up in the final seconds to secure the victory.
“Corey is a money player,” North Beach head coach Larry Moore said. “Some guys thrive on the pressure. He definitely thrives on the pressure. He wants the ball in his hands in critical times, and he wants to be the guy to make the big play. Players make plays, and Corey is one of them that stepped up and made some great plays for us tonight.”
Thornton scored seven of the Hyaks’ 12 overtime points. He and Gabe Hernandez shared the team-high scoring mark, each with 21 points.
Although Thornton’s clutch play was crucial, it was not the only determining factor in the win for North Beach (4-0, 10-0).
Early in the third quarter, with the Hyaks trailing 37-27, Moore called a time out and made a significant defensive adjustment. North Beach abandoned its typical zone-press and switched to an aggressive man-to-man style defense.
“Once we switched to man-to-man, our intensity level stepped up,” Moore said. “The kids started to accept the challenge of the guy they were guarding. It was a good team effort for us. (The defensive change) was definitely the difference for us in the second half. We just weren’t getting it done in the zone.”
Although he noted that he was not happy with the loss, Valley head coach John Peterson was proud of his team’s performance.
“I thought we played really well,” Peterson said. “Too many turnovers, especially in the fourth quarter. We didn’t make the plays at the end that we needed to, but I thought we played very hard. Both teams played really hard. They’re a fine team. Give them a lot of credit, but give my guys a lot of credit, too.”
Peterson cited Konigsberger, Stephen Camenzind and Drew Pearson for good rebounding, and added that Anthony Sagen played his best game of the season.
“I thought it was just a great high school basketball game,” Moore said. “The fans definitely got their money’s worth. Coach Peterson is one of the best coaches in the state, not just our league. The Valley kids always play hard and give it everything they’ve got. Our kids got a little frustrated, but we stepped up our intensity and made the plays when we needed to. I’m really proud of our kids.”
Valley will be back in action on Monday when it hosts the Montesano Bulldogs. North Beach will travel to Taholah on Tuesday to take on the Chitwhins.
Will Vall. 1913101010-62 N. Beach18981712-64
Willapa Valley (62) — Sagen 2, Buchanan 10, Konigsberger 27, Oblad 7, Gray, Pearson 2, Camenzind 14. FG — 22-52 (.423). FT — 11-17.
North Beach (64) — Beck 5, Thornton 21, Gonzales 7, Chong 6, Takagi 1, Ketter, Hernandez 21, Fry 3. FG — 23-52 (.442). FT — 13-23.