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With the holidays well in the rearview mirror and playoffs fast approaching, Mark Morris coach Bill Bakamus knows it’s time for him and his coaching staff to buckle down. This is the time of year that separates state-bound squads from those spending March at home.

“I think the boys can sense that,” Bakamus explained.

And after a renewed focus at practice following a 19-point loss to Columbia River last week, the Monarchs put forth their most well-rounded offensive performance of the season. They worked the ball inside and out, and picked away at the Woodland defense with high-percentage shots. The result was a 55-40 Greater St. Helens 2A League victory on Monday night in Woodland.

Reece Gibb and Rarey Sommer each had 18 points, and Jack Shipley finished with eight.

“It feels great,” Shipley said. “We played a lot better as a team and executed better.”

If Bakamus could script an entire 32 minutes on offense, it would look an awful lot like Monday. Dawson Fritz and Thomas Sprague were able to penetrate; Sommer and Shipley controlled the ball down low; and Gibb benefited with open 3-pointers.

“The last two days they really committed to getting back to some basic things,” Bakamus said. “Offensively, we were able to cut harder, set better screens, look for a higher-percentage shot and not settle for something contested. When you can get in a flow offensively, it can translate to confidence throughout the game.”

Woodland, on the other end of the floor, struggled with its flow. Too often, the Beavers took off-balance shots early in the shot clock. A possession is valuable, and Mark Morris gave higher stock to it.

“Poor execution offensively, a lot of missed layups, missed free throws,” Woodland coach Andrew Johnson said. “They’re things we can control, and we just didn’t do a good job of it tonight.”

Tyler Flanagan finished with 15 points despite running into first-half foul trouble, and Isaac Hall and Alex Bishop each had eight points. Flanagan was the lone spark offensively, as his ability to get into the lane and draw bodies toward him is typically Mark Morris’ Kryptonite.

“I think when Flanagan wants to get to the basket, he’s going to get to the basket,” Bakamus said. “It’s how you defend once he gets inside that paint. We’ve been trying to preach take charges, and to go vertical with your hands up. … We’re doing a better job of contesting. It just reduces their percentage when they get in there.”

It kept the Beavers on the perimeter for most of the evening and gave MM a 3-1 league record. Woodland fell to 2-2.

Mark Morris travels to R.A. Long on Thursday for the first Civil War of the season. Woodland travels to league-leading Columbia River on Thursday.

“We’re feeling great about (the season) right now,” Shipley said. “Just keep pushing and fighting.”

Kalama 47, Rainier, Wash. 30: The Chinooks shook off another poor shooting night to emerge victorious in the Central 2B League game on Monday in Rainier. Tommy Brandenburg had seven points and three steals and Grant Vandenberg has six points and three steals. Montego Mercer led the team with 13 points. “We forced a lot of turnovers,” coach Wes Armstrong said. “I’m proud of the defensive effort.”

Columbia River 62, R.A. Long 33: The Lumberjacks fell to 3-10 on the year and 1-4 in league play. They face Mark Morris at home on Thursday. No other information was reported.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Hockinson 74, Mark Morris 28: Jacie Rismoen poured in a career-high 11 points but the Hawks’ press was too much for MM in a Greater St. Helens 2A League road loss Monday. Allie Scudder added seven points and Katie Troy had five.

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Sports Editor

Joshua is the sports editor for The Daily News. He joined the staff in January 2016 after working at The Bellingham Herald. He is a Western Washington University graduate and native of the Puget Sound region.

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