Mark Morris had its hands full with Fort Vancouver’s Kahlil Singleton, but the top-seeded Monarchs pieced things together when it counted and beat the Trappers 75-63 in the second round of the District IV boys basketball tournament on Tuesday.
The Monarchs looked like they were ready to pull away from the Trappers at multiple points early on, beginning with a 7-0 run in the opening minute of the game. But Fort Vancouver stuck around and refused to let MM ever pull away for good. The Monarchs looked a bit out-of-sync in the early goings, resulting in coach Bill Bakamus calling his team toward the bench during free throws.
“At times we tend to forget our game plan offensively, where we want to have multiple actions and we start headhunting for the basket real early and it kind of gets us a little out of rhythm…it was just a kind of reminder to find your rhythm,” Bakamus said.
The Monarchs found that rhythm and started the second on a 12-3 run to take a 32-16 lead. Yet again, the Trappers found a way to narrow MM’s advantage and rattled off a 10-3 run of their own that featured three straight makes from Singleton to cut the Monarch lead to single digits, 35-26, at the half.
It was more of the same in the third. Mark Morris would hit a few shots in a row, Fort Vancouver would answer. Approaching the fourth, the Trappers finally took control of the momtentum and flustered the Monarchs as they cut the lead down to just ne possession at 52-51 entering the fourth.
Once Singleton got rolling in the second and third quarters, the rest of the Trappers fed off it and were able to claw away at the Monarchs.
“He’s got long-range, he has a mid-game and he can finish,” Bakamus said. “When he gets that confidence level high, everybody else feeds off it.”
The Trappers took the lead early in the fourth, but the Monarchs shut the door when it counted. Deacon Dietz keyed in on Singleton, the Monarchs communicated on defense and broke free from the Trappers.
“He’s a great basketball player and he can really shoot the ball,” Dietz said of Singleton. “I took on the assignment to face guard him the whole fourth quarter, because that’s what I knew I needed to do.”
A score from Ashton Harvey in the low post pushed the Monarch lead to nine with just a few minutes remaining. Then, with all eyes on him down low, Harvey found Dietz wide open in the corner for the dagger — an uncontested corner three to put the Monarchs up by 12 and put them out of reach of the Trappers. Dietz wasn’t just locking down singleton in the fourth. He tallied 11 of the Monarchs 23 points in the final period to spark MM on both ends of the floor.
Dietz led the Monarchs on offense with 23 points and worked the ball around with a team-high seven assists. Nate Millspaugh was consistent all night for the Monarchs as he poured in 18 points of his own. Bakamus commended Millspaugh for that consistency as well as his leadership down the stretch.
Jamison Watson and Kobe Parlin were both in double figures for MM with 10 apiece. Harvey grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to go along with nine points on offense.
Singleton led all scorers with 30 points on the night for the Trappers. Tre Cannon played off Singleton’s energy and added 13 points of his own. Despite the high scoring output from Singleton, Bakamus was pleased with the effort on the defensive end against him.
“I think Deacon did a really good job on him,” he said. “Most of his shots were contested, but he’s a talented kid and he finds a way.”
The Monarchs finished the regular season on a high note, and after a bye in the first round of the 2A GSHL Tournament, they weathered the storm against a tough Fort Vancouver team that belied its fourth place ranking because of of an extended absence from Singleton due to injury earlier this season.
“I think we’re very confident,” Bakamus said. “It’s just fun to watch this team come together and play good basketball at the right time of the season.”
Mark Morris will now host Black Hills from the Evergreen 2A League in the District semifinals at 7 p.m., Wednesday, on Ted M. Natt Court. The Monarchs played Black Hills earlier this season and won a tightly-contested 60-57 game.
“(This win) means a lot to us and we can’t let up because you’ve always got to be on the gas,” Dietz said. “Whatever we have to do to win, that’s what we’re going to do.”