VANCOUVER — Win No. 500 came against Skyview in 2013. Storm coach Matt Gruhler wasn’t about to let Bill Bakamus’ notch the 600th against his squad too.
The Storm overwhelmed Mark Morris with length and speed on Friday, putting off the Monarchs’ 27th-year coach’s milestone achievement for another game. Using a 13-0 second-quarter run, Skyview topped the Monarchs 60-45.
Bakamus will get a chance to become the sixth boys’ basketball coach in the state to eclipse 600 wins at Ted M. Natt Court on Tuesday against Timberline. Kelso follows on Friday across the river.
In other words, things don’t get easier for Bakamus’ squad in the coming weeks. With W.F. West and Capital awaiting on the nonleague slate later this season, and a pair of league opponents before the new year, this might be one of the Monarchs’ tougher schedules in recent memory.
“From a personal standpoint, I love playing really good teams,” Bakamus said. “It’s not always a good thing for your psyche, but if the kids can grow from it, then mission accomplished.”
It gives the coaching staff a chance to recognize flaws and things to work on as they seek a 19th straight Greater St. Helens 2A League crown this January.
On Friday night, the notable hole wasn’t something easily corrected. Skyview was quicker and more athletic, and when Mark Morris tried to speed things up in the second half, it only played into the Storm’s hands. Alex Schumacher and Jace Chatman each finished with 15 points for the Storm.
“The first half I thought we did a good of slowing the game down and executing,” Bakamus said. “Second half we wanted to get out and play at a faster pace, because that’s what we’re used to. But the problem was the faster pace didn’t necessarily lead to execution.”
To MM’s credit, it hung tough early on when the game was played at a more glacial pace.
Defensively, the outsized Monarchs held the Storm in check through 12 minutes. They drew three charges on the game, and Dawson Fritz and Thomas Sprague each bodied up bigger boys on the post.
“I was super pleased with our toughness,” Bakamus said. “We just need to fine tune some things so we know what each other is doing a little more. I think that just comes with playing together.”
Offensively, Fritz dropped a team-high 14 points and Rarey Sommer shook off foul trouble to score 10.
But the Monarchs could never find a rhythm on that end of the floor.
“They’re bouncy, they’re longer than they look, and they’re a seasoned group,” Bakamus said of Friday night’s adversary. “Defensively, they just had their scheme down. It got us on our heels to where baskets were hard to score.”
After playing to an 11-11 draw in the opening frame, Mark Morris took a 17-13 lead in the second quarter before Skyview scored the final 13 points going into the lockers.
Garrett Ness hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter to cut the lead to seven, but MM got no closer.