Mark Morris opened the season with a home win Thursday night, displaying exactly what the Monarchs offered this season with a reconstructed roster.

They showed some warts, and a few more gems as they beat Fort Vancouver 60-56 at Ted M. Natt Court.

Mark Morris’ guards managed to work the lane and score from down low, but the perimeter game saw better days.

“You always have a critical eye,” said coach Bill Bakamus, who picked up his 599th career win. “I think our perimeter defense, letting guys catch and shoot 3s. That was the thing that kept them in the game. They were 13 for 21. We tried to make a little adjustment, but we weren’t as good as we should have been from the perimeter.”

Mark Morris held a 10-point lead midway through the second half but entered a period of offensive stagnation that allowed the Trappers back into the game with only a few looks.

“I think the other thing is that our passing could be better,” Bakamus said. “It can always be better. And I think the other thing is that if we make our free throws like I know we can, it makes the game a little easier.”

The rust and inexperience, though, was shadowed by solid all-around post play.

“Brayden (Harris) and (Dawson) Fritz are probably two of the quicker combination kids that we’ve had,” Bakamus said. “So we have to utilize that. I thought Brayden had some really nice looks, he didn’t rush them. He had one on the baseline, a few on the perimeter, and he’s a good shooter. It didn’t fall for him, but you know what, now he has his feet underneath him.”

Harris finished with two points over limited run, and Fritz added seven points with six assists and two rebounds.

Reece Gibb, who takes over at the three position this season, scored 11 points including nine from beyond the arc. Newcomer Rarey Sommer scored 20 points, with all his shots coming from within a few feet of the rim, and grabbed nine rebounds.

Perhaps the team’s most notable stat came in the final six minutes: Fort Vancouver scored only three points over that span as the Monarchs took care of the ball and played solid defense without committing many fouls.

That made all the difference in an otherwise tight ballgame that becomes Bakamus’ 599th career win.

“I still remember the close losses a lot more than the wins,” Bakamus said with a smile. “Just glad to get this one tonight.”

Bakamus will try to become the sixth coach in Washington state history to reach the 600-win milestone on Tuesday against Skyview in Vancouver.

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Sports Reporter

Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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