NAPAVINE — The Tigers shot the lights out in their own gymnasium Tuesday night on the way to a 62-49 win over Wahkiakum in their season opening Central 2B League boys basketball contest.
Napavine came out hot from beyond the arc and then employed a quantity over quality approach from long range to send the Mules back to the barn and the drawing board.
“We started out and we were down 9-0. They hit three 3’s right off the bat,” Wahkiakum coach Todd Souvenir.
Napavine hit 12 of their 33 shots from downtown in the game, including seven makes from Laythen Demarest on 18 attempts. James Grose knocked down one third of his three point attempts for the home team. Demarest finished with a team-high 23 points.
But guard play isn’t even Napavine’s bread and butter. With notorious big man Keith Olson and infamous strong man Cade Evander holding down the blocks, the Tigers like to pride themselves on their post play. And when the Tigers missed from long range those two typically come down with the rebound.
Against Wahkiakum, Olson pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds while Evander and Grose grabbed seven boards each. Overall, Napavine beat the Mules 40-32 on the glass.
“With the size that they have on the inside and the physicality inside of Evander and Olson, plus their young guys that we know can knock down shots, we knew it was going to be a tough matchup,” Souvenir said.
Still, the Mules were able to get within four points with just over five minutes left in the game thanks to a typically awesome effort from Jake Leitz, who scored a game-high 27 points. Brody Carlson was the only other Mule to hit double digits, with 11 points.
But the Tigers defense steeled itself down the stretch, forcing missed shots and turnovers while knocking down their three point heaves and freebies with equal frequency.
“We just never could get a rhythm offensively and some of that is a credit to (Napavine),” Souvenir said. “They control the pace of the game so we struggled. We want to push the ball this year and to do that you’ve got to get stops and you’ve got to get rebounds.”
Leitz added a team-high 14 rebounds to secure the double-double and Brodie Avalon chipped nine points in the loss.
“We’ve just got to move the ball a little bit better and figure out how to get touches in the paint,” Souvenir said. “Most importantly, we’ve got to get better on the defensive end.”
With Gov. Inslee’s announcement Tuesday that COVID-19 phases will be paused for the next two weeks, schools in Cowlitz County are still without a home court for their games. That scenario has pushed Cathlamet into the forefront of conversation as everyone from athletic directors to fans in the stands try to make sense of a strange situation.
“As of today I know we’ll have home games with Kalama and Toutle,” Souvenir said. “I think it would have been a lot different story if today Lewis County would have gone down, instead of the Governor giving everybody a pass.”
While Souvenir thinks it’s unlikely that Cathlamet will wind up as central station for Southwest Washington prep basketball games this spring, he’s not mad about a few extra home games and he’s grateful to finally have a season underway.
“I’m just excited that the kids get to play. It’s really been a big question mark about whether we’re really going to get to play or not,” Souvenir said. “I know the kids struggle with wearing the masks and so do we as coaches, but if that’s what it takes to get us to play then that’s what we’re going to do.”
Wahkiakum (0-1) is set to host Toledo on Thursday.
Toledo shakes off rough start, wins in OT
TOLEDO — The Toledo boys basketball team needed a furious comeback after a poor first half against Rainier (Wash.), but furiously come back they did, with sophomore Carson Gould drilling a three-pointer in the waning moments of the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime. Given new life and five more minutes, the home side controlled the extra period of free basketball, and ultimately rode out into the night as 58-52 winners.
Going into halftime down nine after two quarters best described as suboptimal, coach Grady Fallon’s message to his team was simple:
“Let’s not have a half like that again. Let’s cut it in half by the end of the third, and then shoot for it at the end.”
Instead, Toledo played Rainier even in the third, and still trailed by nine heading to the final eight minutes of regulation. The hosts made up ground slowly, working their way to the line, where they went 8-for-11 on free throws to help their trek back to contention.
Down three with 30 seconds left, Toledo missed a shot from the baseline and was forced to foul, but the Mountaineers missed both their free throws. On the next trip down the floor with the clock ticking, Gould — a post player making his first varsity appearance — got the ball out wide with 18 seconds left.
“He stepped out into the corner and let it rip,” Fallon said. “He was open, so he took it, and he made it. It was cool, the whole gym blew up.”
That tied it at 49-49, and sent it to overtime. In the fifth period, Toledo got one three-pointer from Jake Cournyer — the sophomore’s third triple of the night — and then saw the game out from the free-throw line, with Courney going 2-for-2 from the charity stripe and Fredy Fernandez going 4-for-4.
“It was more patience and free throws: the things you have to have at the end of the game to win,” Fallon said.
Cournyer finished with a team-high 15 points and also led the squad with six rebounds, while Fernandez and Carlo Arceo-Hansen both scored 11. Ryan Bloomstrom and Carson Olstead tacked on seven points apiece.
“That’s pretty good, when you can have three guys in double-figures and a couple with five-plus,” Fallon said. “Spread the love a little bit.”
The Mountaineers came out firing early, led by 11 points from Ian Sprouffske in the opening quarter. Toledo wound up down 14-6 before it banked-in a three-pointer in the dying seconds. That put Toledo down five after eight minutes, but the deficit only grew in the second quarter, during which the Mountaineers switched to a zone defense.
“That first half was ugly,” Fallon said. “I think I got an ulcer.”
Coming out for the third, Toledo started to take play more in-control on offense, with Arceo-Hansen — who was held off the scoresheet in the first half — leading the charge to get to the free-throw line.
“He’s the guy that has the most experienced, he’s the guy that’s going to draw the biggest defender every time, so he’s got his work cut out for him,” Fallon said. “But man, he’s quick. He gets around guys and gets in there, pump-fakes, and draws the foul.”
Arceo-Hansen scored six points in the third quarter, including getting four from the line. After taking just six free throws in the first half — and making only two — Toledo went 18-for-25 from the charity stripe after halftime.
Toledo (1-0) is scheduled to play at Wahkiakum on Thursday.
T-Wolves wreck Winlock’s return to the hardwood
WINLOCK — The Cardinals have had plenty of time to think about how it would feel to play a real life basketball game. Like nearly every other team in the area they’ve been held off the court since the end of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Winlock tipped off their boys basketball season some six months later than usual, even if actual tip offs are now outlawed due to safety regulations and replaced with a side out of bounds to start each quarter. In any case, for one day at least, that was good enough, even if things didn’t go exactly to plan in a 67-40 loss to Morton-White Pass.
“I thought for the first game and only having a handful of practices we executed well when we were able to get into our offense,” Winlock coach Nick Bamer said. “It was just a first game and it looked like a first game.”
Morton-White Pass played frantic defense from the offset. First the T-Wolves deployed a full court 1-3-1 press. Later they switched to full court man-to-man defense. The whole time, they subbed a deep bench into the game in four minute intervals in order to keep up their preferred pace.
“We played our butts off in the first half! But the pressure got to us. They wore us down,” Bamer said. “Their strategy is to run 12 guys at you. They’re constantly subbing and keeping guys fresh.”
A 24-23 lead for MWP at the intermission ballooned in the third quarter when it outscored the Cardinals 27-10. Gary Dotson led the T-Wolves on both ends of the court by grabbing rebounds, moving the ball with the quickness and knocking down open shots both off the pass and a quick dribble. Dotson finished the game with 16 points while Tyler Blake scored a team-high 20 points.
Turnovers, and plenty of them, were undoubtedly the difference in the game.
“It got away from us for five minutes or so… They just beat us up inside, unless it was in transition,” Bamer said. “Once they went man-to-man, we’re pretty green. We’re replacing a lot from last year and we have several new ball handlers.”
Winlock was led in scoring by Nolan Swofford who posted a game-high 22 points while playing with a heavily taped wrist that’s still on the mend from a football season fracture. None of his teammates cracked double digit scoring. Payton Sickles grabbed a team-high seven rebounds for the Cards.
“It was a good lesson for a lot of our guys about how we have to practice to get ready for teams,” Bamer said.
WInlock (0-1) is scheduled to play at Onalaska on Thursday.
Comets rain down baskets on Terriers
VANCOUVER — The Naselle boys basketball team had absolutely no troubles at all in its season opener, dismantling the Washington School for the Deaf 62-17.
“We shot the ball really well tonight,” Naselle coach A.J. Smith said. “Most of our buckets came off of lay-ins. We only turned the ball over three times. The way we played, we can beat anyone playing like that.”
Playing the first varsity game of his high school career, Joey Strange went off for the Comets, filling up the bucket for 25 points and adding three rebounds and three steals.
“He was an absolute stud,” Smith said. “It was the best game I’ve ever seen him play. My hat’s off to him. He really stepped up over the offseason and put in the time, and it showed tonight”
Kolten Lindstrom added 16 points, and seven other Comets found their way onto the scoresheet. Trent Stephens led the team with seven rebounds, while junior Jason Harman led the defensive effort that stifled the Terriers all night long with seven steals.
Naselle (1-0) was scheduled to host Pe Ell in its home opener on Tuesday.