With defense figuring to be their stock in trade, Aberdeen’s boys may have given a preview of coming attractions Friday night.
Disrupting Hoquiam’s offense with full-court man-to-man pressure, the Bobcats topped the Grizzlies, 60-43, in a non-league boys basketball contest at Sam Benn Gym.
The Bobcats utilized a balanced attack in capturing their season opener. Five players scored at least seven points, with junior guard Addam Follett tallying a team-high 13.
Sophomore guard Payton Campbell came off the bench to score 12 points, while junior point guard Cole Edwards barely missed double figures with nine.
Nevertheless, it was no accident that Aberdeen coach Leonard Barnes took pains to cited two players — Deon Schlesser and Austin Floch — who failed to score. Both were key operatives in a defense that created 19 turnovers and helped limit the Grizzlies (0-2) to 24 percent field-goal shooting.
“We’re that type of team. We really get after them,” said Barnes. “We’re a gritty, tough man team.”
Spotty in their outside shooting at the beginning, the Bobcats were also able to attack the hoop sufficiently to draw a multitude of fouls. Aberdeen canned 24 of 36 free throws, including an 14-of-18 performance from the stripe in the second half.
The young Grizzlies, who start two freshmen and still aren’t at full strength in terms of personnel, owned a 41-35 rebounding advantage. But HHS coach Curtis Eccles acknowledged that his team experienced difficulty running an offense.
“A lot of that is inexperience,” Eccles conceded. “It’s almost like we’re re-teaching everything.”
Senior posts Blake Kelly and Joel Brydon did most of the damage for Hoquiam. Kelly finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Brydon added nine points and nine boards.
Badly outrebounding the Bobcats in the early going, the Grizzlies owned a 6-3 lead midway through the first quarter. They mustered only one field goal in the next 7 1/2 minutes, however, as Aberdeen took command.
Edwards’ jumper from the left wing put Aberdeen in front to stay at 8-6 at the 2:37 mark of the opening period. Free throws by Follett and Jacob Black, followed by Campbell’s driving layin to open the second quarter increased the margin to eight, at 17-9. Aberdeen led 27-18 at the half.
The Bobcats led by as many as 19, 46-27, on Black’s rebound basket about 90 seconds into the fourth quarter.
With Kelly and freshman Jerod Steen combining for six points in a 25-second span, Hoquiam whittled the deficit to 48-38 with 3:50 on the clock.
Despite missing some chances to make further inroads, the Grizzlies eventually closed to within eight when Jack Adams sank a pair of foul shots with 2:07 remaining.
Follett’s 3-point basket 14 seconds later, however, essentially sealed the outcome.
“We’re going to make mistakes,” Eccles noted. “But I tip my hat to these guys for coming back after being down so much and giving them a little scare.”
Barnes was happy with the play of his team’s bench. The majority of the 10 Bobcats who saw action made significant contributions.
“I suited up 10 players and I can use all of them — and we will— depending on the match-ups,” the AHS coach said.
Senior floor leader Veek Cheema collected six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The Cats also received fine work inside from starter Black and senior reserve Lorenzo Ontiveros. The latter scored eight points, all in the second half, while grabbing six rebounds. Black, a fine leaper, had seven points and nine boards.
Both teams will continue non-league play next week. The Grizzlies host North Beach on Monday, while the Bobcats entertain Elma on Wednesday.
Hoquiam (43) — D. Kelly 4, B. Kelly 11, Steen 7, Adams 6, Brydon 9, Oliver 3, White, Varner 3, Anderson. FG — 16-67 (.239). FT — 9-13.
Aberdeen (60) — Edwards 9, Follett 13, Schlesser, Cheema 6, Black 7, Campbell 12, Floch, Ontiveros 8, Taylor, Craig 5. FG — 17-47 (.361). FT — 24-36.
JV — Aberdeen 47, Hoquiam 37. Victor Gomez 15 points for Aberdeen. Zach Spradlin 12 for Hoquiam.
C squad — Aberdeen 64, Hoquiam 33. Grant Larson 15 points and Miles Devine 13 for Aberdeen.