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The passes were quick and crisp, the rebounding looked too easy, and the Monarchs are on to the semifinal round of the Southwest 2A District Tournament.

Mark Morris beat Tumwater 68-40 at Ted M. Natt Court on Tuesday, largely with the help of some extra practice which translated into precision basketball.

“I love practice more than games, and the kids know that,” MM coach Bill Bakamus said. “I’m not Allen Iverson. I love practice, that’s just my thing. So did the extra practice help? I think it did.”

It couldn’t be more evident than when guard Dawson Fritz dished three no-look passes in the lane, turning a few fast breaks into six points. Or when the Monarchs slowed things down, and a screen opened up a 3 for forward Reece Gibb.

“It really did,” Gibb said of the extra practice. “We were preparing to play a day or two after our last game, but with all those practices, we knew Tumwater in and out. We knew what they ran, we knew their defense, we knew our plays. We were set, it was really helpful to get a few more practices in.”

Gibb finished with 11 points, and was perfect on his first three shots — two being 3’s. Post Rarey Sommer led Mark Morris with 14 points, while Fritz scored 11 points and Jack Shipley added 10 points. Nearly everyone scored close to their season average, and everyone on the MM bench got some run by the end of the night.

“When we share it, and get a bunch of guys involved, we had four kids averaging double figures,” Bakamus said. “You get that kind of equal production out of everybody and it’s a little tougher for a team to pinpoint and stop one guy. We’re not necessarily blessed with the most athletic individual, but I think collectively we can do some things to manufacture some advantages. I think the kids are really buying into that.”

A quick start provided a major boost as the Monarchs jumped out to a 13-4 lead over the first four minutes and forced Tumwater to play catch up. The Thunderbirds never did.

“It was big,” Gibb said. “We hadn’t played in over a week, we never knew when we were going to play, but we knew we needed to jump on them early. That’s what we did, we just knew that we wanted to win each quarter. So it was important to get to a quick start there.”

Polarity between the first half of the season and the playoffs is something of a trademark for Mark Morris over the last couple seasons. The showing against Tumwater was no different.

“Big difference,” Gibb said. “We’re moving the ball a lot better, we’re running our offense, we’re pressuring on defense, we’re doing it all better. It’s where we wanted to be at the end of the season.”

Now MM is a game away from another district title game, and will face Black Hills on Thursday after the Wolves beat Hockinson 80-68. BH won the Evergreen 2A Conference as well.

“It’s a team that won decisively up there,” Bakamus said, “ so from here on out you’re chopping wood.”

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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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