CHEHALIS – Willapa Valley’s girls and North Beach’s boys applied different methods to reach the same destination — the regional round of the 2B basketball tournament.
In the opening game of a Southwest Washington District IV 2B co-ed doubleheader, Valley raced out to an early 11-point lead and never trailed in topping reigning district champion Pe Ell, 35-26.
In the nightcap, North Beach trailed by as many as 10 in the third quarter before rallying to force overtime and eventually toppling Napavine, 52-48.
Both games were of the winner-to-regionals, loser-out variety. Both teams will learn their regional opponent and destination on Monday.
North Beach 52, Napavine 48, OT
Facing a ten point deficit and with Pacific League MVP Gabe Hernandez on the bench with foul trouble, things looked bleak for the Hyaks early in the third quarter.
However, the hot hand of Corey Thornton and valuable contributions from its role players kept North Beach (22-4) within striking distance throughout and setting the stage for a wild fourth quarter.
Down by six to start the fourth, Justin Chong cut the lead the deficit to four with a rebound and putback. Napavine’s Austin Filley answered with a mi-drange jumper and a pair of Wyatt Stanley free throws put the Tigers up 43-36 with 5:20 left.
Thornton drove to the hole with 3:36 left to cut the deficit to five but Stanley canned another free throw to put the Tigers back on top, 44-38.
The Hyaks answered with seven straight points to take their first lead of the game. Thornton hit a jumper off a feed from Hernandez, Chong found Michael Beck open on a back door cut to cut it to two, and Chong put the Hyaks on top with a conventional three-point play with 1:33 left.
That lead was short lived. A free throw by J.T. Kaut tied it up at 45-all with 1:09 left. Beck put the Hyaks back on top with 30 seconds left as he converted on a 13-foot jumper that narrowly beat the shot clock. The Tigers raced the ball into the front court and got it in the hands of Stanley, who was fouled and promptly hit both free throws and tie it at 47-47 with 20.1 seconds left.
Hyak coach Larry Moore called timeout with 6.2 seconds left to setup a final shot for North Beach. The result was a clean 3-point look for Beck which was off the mark and sent the game to overtime.
Chong’s foul-line line jumper 22 seconds into overtime put the Hyaks on top for good. The Tigers went scoreless for the first 3:25 of overtime until Josh Hoyt hit the second end of a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left.
After the free throw, the Hyaks raced the ball into the front court – against Moore’s wishes – but found Austin Perez underneath the bucket for a laying, putting North Beach on top 51-48 with 23 seconds left.
After a Tiger timeout, Napavine’s Kaut got off a clean look at a 3-pointer to tie with 15 seconds left but missed. Hernandez grabbed the board, threw it into the front court to Thornton, who was able to dribble around until finally being fouled with 2.5 seconds left. Thornton hit one of two free throws to seal the deal.
Moore started his postgame comments by citing the team’s season-long dedication to the late Hyak coach Bob Sutter.
“This season we dedicated to Coach Sutter. If we were here, we would have made him proud,” Moore said. “This has been a resilient group all year. It’s a tight group. We got down early, but we got it back together and stuck together to get to move on.”
The Hyaks received contributions from up and down the roster. Thornton, who has been plagued by shooting woes of late, shook off his slump to pour in 22 points.
Chong knocked down six field goals en route to 13 points and grabbed 7 rebounds before fouling out in overtime. Beck dished out three assists and drew the assignment of guarded Tiger scoring ace Kaut who, after 12 points in the first half, had just one in the second half.
Moore also lavished his assistants with praise afterward, citing their input for a halftime adjustment from a 2-3 zone defense to a man-to-man.
The Hyaks looked to be on the verge of being knocked down for good several times. Napavine ran off six straight points to open up a 27-18 lead with a minute left in the second quarter, before Chong hit a jump shot to trim the deficit to seven entering halftime. Seven straight Napavine points in the third quarter gave the Tigers their biggest lead of the game, 36-26 with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers were led by Kaut’s 13 points.
Willapa Valley 35, Pe Ell 26
Valley did enough in the opening eight minutes to lock up its first chance at post-district play since 2003. Five different Vikings did the scoring as Valley raced out to a 13-4 first quarter lead. A jumper from the free throw line for Brooke Harden gave Valley a 15-4 lead with 6:49 left in the second.
However, things would never be so comfortable for the Vikes again. Valley proceeded to go on a 6:47 scoring drought, finally broken by a Sydney Wilkeson bucket from five feet with 1.5 seconds left in the first half.
While the Vikings were cooling off from the floor, Pe Ell was putting together its best stretch of offense in the contest. Pe Ell rolled off 10 straight points —led by five points by scoring ace Kayla Capps.
“The first quarter was excellent for us,” Viking coach Matt Bannish said. “When you only score 35 points in a game, though, things are bound to be close.”
While Valley’s offensive struggles continued into the second half, ace point guard Karli Friese kept the Viking ship afloat. Combining her ability to get to weave through the Trojan defense with key free throws down the stretch, Friese scored 13 of Valley’s 18 second- half points — including six of Valley’s seven third quarter points.
“We weren’t great shooting, but we did enough of the right things down the stretch to hold on,” Bannish summarized.
The Vikings scored the first five points of the fourth quarter – all from K. Friese – to open up a nine-point lead, their biggest since the second quarter.
Up 32-23 with 1:52 left, Valley had its lead trimmed to six by a rainbow three-pointer by Capps from the right wing, but that would end the Trojan scoring. Valley hit three free throws in the final minute.
Bannish cited Wilkeson for defense on Capps, who was held to just the 3-pointer in the second half.
Lauren Friese was plagued by foul trouble and held to six points, well below her season average.
“We’re excited. We say an ugly win is always better than a pretty loss,” Bannish signed off.
North Beach 11 9 14 13 4—52
Napavine 15 12 13 7 1 - 48
North Beach (52) – Beck 7, Thornton 22, Gonzales, Ju. Chong 13, Takagi, Ketter 2, Edlin, Hernandez 6, Fry, Perez 2. FG – 20-57 (.351). FT – 9-17.
Napavine (48) – Doughy 8, Sisson, Stanley 8, Filley 7, Kaut 13, Hertz, Van Wyck, Hoyt 11. Ta. Dekoker 1 FG – 14-37 (.378) FT – 16-29.
Wil Valley 13 4 7 11 — 35
Pe Ell 4 10 6 6 — 26
Valley (35) – L. Friese 6, Smaciarz 6, Wilkeson 2, K. Friese 13, Fluke, Harden 4, Trotter 4. FG – 13-44 (.296). FT – 8-25.
Pe Ell (26) – Joner, Alden 4, Lusk, Skeen 2, H. Compton 5, A. Compton 2, Delavergne, Hoke, Capps 11, Duncan, Brooks 2, Smith. FG – 8-50 (.160). FT – 7-21.