MONTESANO — Poised for a shot at entry into the District IV 1A boys basketball tournament, Montesano couldn’t find a way around Toledo on its home court on Tuesday night.
The Indians, the No. 5 seed out of the Trico League, showcased their defense from the opening tip and prevented the Bulldogs’ struggling offense from getting any traction in this 55-35 district play-in game victory at Bo Griffith Memorial Gym.
Castle Rock eliminated Rainier, 55-40, in the other half of the Montesano doubleheader.
Montesano will bow out with a 11-10 record overall. Toledo (13-7) will take on league rival Kalama in the opening round of the district tournament Friday night at 8 p.m. in Kelso.
“Their defense disrupted us; they were coming, doubling, doubling from the front, from the back,” Montesano head coach Doug Galloway said. “That disrupted everything we wanted to do. With a young team and a new coach, we didn’t respond very well to that. Their defense led to their offense. You get more opportunities off turnovers and they’re getting 2-to-1 chances and their offense was going to click.”
Toledo made sure Montesano had trouble from the get-go. The hosts struggled to find open shots and turnovers allowed the visitors to break out in transition to control the pace of the game.
A quick 3-point shot by Toledo junior guard Brent Wood and a driving lay-up to the basket by Grant McEwen forced Monte into a quick timeout three minutes into the game, down 7-2. The Indians’ inside-out offense was the main beneficiary of their defensive work at the other end of the floor.
Wood drained five 3-point baskets in the first half to pace the Indians, who led 30-20 at halftime. Three of Wood’s five treys came in the first quarter, propelling Toledo to a 17-6 lead.
“Wood did a great job, hitting five 3-pointers in the first half and he didn’t miss many in the first half,” Galloway said. “He’s (Toledo’s) catalyst. They have a lot of good players, especially the McEwen kid, but how (Wood) goes, so goes (Toledo). He really handles the ball, is very smart. I was very impressed and he had an impressive night.”
Montesano managed to trim the deficit into single digits on Kaleb Chastain’s offensive-rebound putback midway through the third quarter, 34-26. Unfortunately, Toledo’s defense forced several turnovers on the next Monte possessions to kickstart transition baskets that pushed the lead into double digits for good.
A 12-5 run to end the third quarter, with all five field goals in the run converted in transition, gave Toledo a 46-31 lead. Montesano would get no closer than the eight-point deficit and roated through its bench in the fourth quarter.
Wood led all scorers with 21 points for Toledo, with McEwen 14 points added. Senior Kenny Roy finished his Montesano career on his home court by leading the Bulldogs with 12 points.
“I think we did a fantastic job this year,” Galloway said. “We went 11-10, finished over .500 with a new coach and just one returning player with experience. I think we had a great year. There are only a few teams that keep going in the postseason. There are 72 teams in the 1A and not all of them keep on playing. We got beat by a better team tonight.”
Toledo 17 13 16 9 — 55
Montesano 6 14 11 4 — 35
Toledo (55) — Wood 21, F. Wallace 5, Askin, Andrews, J. Wallace, Bowen 2, McEwen 14, Vermilyea 4, Fuentes 4, Merly 5, Johnson, Cline. FG — 22-48 (.458). FT — 6-10.
Montesano (35) — Truax 3, Usher 5, Chastain 5, Lovell, Roy 12, Nelson, Herzog, Hopsecger 4, Chapman, Bialkowsky 6. FG — 16-52 (.308). FT — 1-2.