On a night where both teams relied on perimeter shooting, Aberdeen’s guard play made the difference as the Bobcats defeated the Montesano Bulldogs 79-66 on Friday in Montesano.
Aberdeen (4-0 overall) got a big game from Javier Bojorge who put up 29 points and shot 5-for-8 from beyond the arc.
Bojorge got a lot of his looks out of half-court sets, with both teams playing a slower pace than they have in previous games.
Both Monte and Aberdeen have applied ball pressure in previous games but the Bobcats wanted to cut to the basket with the hopes of getting the Bulldogs’ bigs in foul trouble.
“We wanted attack the rim with a purpose and draw fouls on them,” Aberdeen head coach Mark Buckman said. “We knew that they were a big team and we just wanted to exploit some gaps and do some other things to make them slide over and defend us.”
The contest appeared to be a defensive struggle early on, with Aberdeen protecting a slim 12-10 lead at the conclusion of the first quarter.
However, the game opened up in the second quarter with Aberdeen hitting its jump shots and Monte (3-2) using the mid-range game and the charity stripe to keep things close. Despite Monte taking advantage of some mismatches inside, Aberdeen still held a 32-27 lead at the half.
Monte head coach Doug Galloway said he was disappointed with his team’s style of play on offense despite the Bulldogs’ point total.
“Aberdeen made us play a little differently than we were ready for, so you have to tip your hat to them,” he said. “I know we scored 66 points, but they put us in some positions we weren’t comfortable with.”
The Bobcats took control after halftime with their best offensive output of the night. Aberdeen lit up the scoreboard with 26 points in the third quarter. Bojorge played a big roll in the output with three 3-point shots and Aberdeen got two more from Dublanko, who ended the night with 18 points.
Monte’s Evan Bates did what he could to keep his team within striking distance in the third quarter and provided 15 points, nine of which came on 3-point shots in the third while the teams exchanged shots from downtown.
Montesano couldn’t close the gap in the third but the Bulldogs didn’t let the game get away from them and cut the score to 64-57 halfway through the fourth quarter.
Buckman said he liked the way his team responded when Montesano gained momentum.
“It’s important for these guys to understand that basketball is a game of runs and good teams don’t give up,” he said. “Montesano is a well-coached group and they continued to shoot the ball, but I was proud of our guys for matching those buckets.”
When Aberdeen pushed the lead to 70-59 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Monte employed the full-court press for the first time in hopes of completing the comeback. The effort would fall short, however, as Monte was not able to continue the hot shooting it benefited from earlier in the quarter.
Galloway said Aberdeen was tough to defend even when his team turned up the pressure.
“If you press you’re going to give something up if they get through it and they have really good ball handlers,” he said. “We got it to within seven and we were making some shots. I was thinking Aberdeen was going to miss a shot at some point, but they didn’t.”
Monte will get another chance to win in front of its home fans when it faces Eatonville at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Aberdeen’s next matchup will also be at home when the Bobcats face North Thurston on Monday at 7 p.m.
Bojorge said he hopes the Bobcats can produce a similar effort their next time out.
“The basketball IQ on this team is amazing,” he said. “We’re out here working for each other and giving it 110-percent intensity every single second of the game. It’s amazing when it all comes together.”