The Winlock Cardinals and the Naselle Comets have met once already this season, and the 1B Comets out-hustled Winlock to a 61-48 win in late December at the Menlo Tournament.
Meeting Monday at the MLK Tournament at LCC, it was the opposite, with the Cardinals out-hustling Naselle to a 68-57 win behind 21 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists from Bryce Cline, 17 points, 4 assists and 6 steals from Noah Patching, 12 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists from Coleson Richendollar and 10 points and 9 boards from Nolan Swofford.
Ethan Lindstrom led the Comets with 19 points and 3 steals.
“That was a big win for us,” Winlock coach Nick Bamer said. “Nice to be able to redeem it.”
After the handshakes and the Player of the Game awards (Cline and Lindstrom), the coaches usually get together for a quick chat.
Naselle coach Bill Olsen said after the Dec. 28 contest, Bamer complimented his Comets saying they got outhustled. On the floor of Myklebust Gym with the next game already in the warm-up stage, it was flipped.
“That’s the signature of our team, to not get out-hustled,” Olsen said. “But tonight, we got out-hustled. And that comes from Nick. Nick has turned things around there at Winlock. He’s got them believing. They were getting up and down the court like we want to get up and down the court. They took that and used it to their advantage.”
For Bamer and the Cardinals, it’s just another feather in the cap for a program that’s just five years removed from a winless season.
“That’s something we strive for every game: outwork, out-hustle,” Bamer said. “It’s nice that coaches like that recognize it, first of all. And it’s nice to have that brand. People come to watch us and every time they say, ‘Man, your kids run. I love how you push the ball,’ or whatever it is. That’s funt o watch. It’s fun to play, and that’s what we’re striving for.”
But there was another element to Winlock’s win.
Yes, the Cardinals shot better (43 percent to 42 percent) and, somehow, Naselle didn’t shoot a single free throw.
Winlock also had nine steals as a team, most of which led directly to layups at the other end.
“They got a lot of 2-footers, and we didn’t,” Olsen said. “That makes a big difference in a basketball game, when you get those 2-footers, because you can’t rely on an elbow show or a 3 all night long. They look good, but they don’t always go in.”
But Kolby Glenn and Corey Gregory combined for just 17 points (9 and 8, respectively) on 7-of-20 shooting combined.
Glenn is a skilled guard and Gregory is a stretch four. Both can shoot it and Naselle has relied on them, along with Jimmy Strange (7 points) and Lindstrom to shoulder the scoring load.
Bamer was genuinely pleased to hold both Glenn and Gregory to their low totals. Some of it was simple missed shots, some of it was the aggressive zone defense the Cardinals play that tempt teams into standing around the 3-point line and huck bombs.
However Winlock got Naselle out of its offensive groove, it worked, and propelled the Cardinals to a revenge-making win.
“I think we threw some things that them that made it a little bit awkward,” Bamer said. “Once it gets into your head a little bit, you start missing. They made some shots, too. They’d make two in a row, then they’d miss five in a row, then they’d make two in a row. Against good teams, like I keep telling the kids, you can’t get too down. They’re going to score. It’s not baseball. You’re not throwing a shutout. But you gotta limit the looks they do get.”
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“We just couldn’t put two of those five-point runs together,” Lindstrom added.
Monday afternoon was also a nice test run for postseason games, ones that usually come with weird start times, big gyms, and sparser-than-usual crowds.
Both the 2B and 1B state tourneys are in Spokane, in an arena that holds 12,638 at max capacity with two courts. The pomp and circumstance of state games can create a distraction or nerves that can’t really be replicated.
But playing at LCC, on a bigger floor with seasoned announcers and music piped in during stoppages, is a reasonable simulation.
“When I took the job last April, my first words out of my mouth were: we’re gonna go win the state title,” Olsen said. “Why would you settle for anything less? This team is athletic enough. The football team, just about every one of them is on this team. They’ve been tested. They know what it takes. I don’t think they’ll be satisfied until we get to that title game.”
“Same goal as always,” Lindstrom said. “Keep improving. Hoping to get back to that championship game and come out on the up side of that.”
Winlock used a 16-5 run to open the second quarter to build a 28-16 lead midway through the period.
It featured a Cline 3, a pair of Richendollar 2s as well as a 3, and baskets from Patching and Joe Welch.
But Naselle cut it back down to five on six points from Lindstrom, who was Naselle’s only consistent scoring option for the duration.
Any time Winlock tried to extend, Naselle came right back.
In the third, the Winlock lead ballooned up to eight, then strank back to five, then back to eight when Landon Tiemens hit a 3 at the third quarter buzzer to send it to the fourth quarter 51-43.
There, Winlock took control.
A Patching layup with 3:28 pushed the Cardinal advantage to 13 at 62-49, then Winlock scored the last six points of the ballgame, mostly from the free throw line, to provide the final count.
Winlock (11-2, 4-0) returns to league play when it visits Rainier, Wash. on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Naselle (7-6, 2-0) heads to Columbia Adventist on Tuesday with a 7:30 p.m. tip.
Winlock 68, Naselle 57
NASELLE — Ethan Lindstrom 19, Kolby Glenn 9, Corey Gregory 8, Jimmy Strange 7, Jack Roosh 6, Chase Haataia 5, Warren Wirkkala 3, Jason Harmon.
WINLOCK — Bryce Cline 21, Noah Patching 17, Coleson Richendollar 12, Nolan Swofford 10, Landon Tiemens 6, Joe Welch 2, Nathan Suhrbier.
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