Elma and Hoquiam each had impressive early-season wins as we review Wednesday’s prep boys basketball action on the Harbor.
BOYS PREP BASKETBALL
Elma 59, Aberdeen 30
Elma turned a comfortable lead into a second-half rout for a 59-30 victory over Aberdeen on Wednesday at Sam Benn Gymnasium in Aberdeen.
The Eagles (1-1 overall) took a lead late in the first quarter at 15-11 after a poor-shooting first quarter that saw Elma hoist up multiple missed 3-pointers.
But after some instruction from head coach Matt Ferrier, Elma extended its lead to double digits in the second quarter.
The Eagles took advantage of the new WIAA rule that designates two free throws per foul after a team has five fouls. Elma went 5-for-8 from the free-throw line through the first 4:30 of the second quarter. Despite just scoring one field goal on a Carter Studer shot in the paint during that time span, Elma held a 22-13 lead.
The advantage was due in large part to an Aberdeen offense that went ice cold against a pesky Eagles defense that created turnovers, challenged shots and gobbled up rebounds.
After opening the second quarter with a pair of free throws from senior forward Baylor Ainsworth, the Bobcats went scoreless until sophomore guard Jhacob Quezada hit two free throws with 2:36 left in the first half.
Elma senior guard Cason Seaberg followed with a three to put the Eagles up 25-15 with just under two minutes to go in the half and scored a breakaway layup after a steal and assist by junior guard Theo Flores.
“We just knew we were the better team and could out-hustle them,” Seaberg said of the second-quarter surge. “(Coach Ferrier) told us to get down the floor and push it; to know that we are the better team and we just have to push the ball down there and get lay-ins and start making shots.”
“Trying to go north and south at the rim is key,” Ferrier said. “After I had to harp on them for shooting 3-pointers too much. We started going north and south and (Aberdeen) started fouling. That new five team-foul rule per quarter benefited us tonight.”
Elma carried the momentum into the opening minutes of the third quarter, putting the game away with a 14-0 run to start the second half.
Seaberg scored on a breakaway layup followed by a bucket by AJ Holmes in the paint off a nice entry pass by junior guard Traden Carter. Seaberg followed with another three on an inbound play to put Elma up 36-16 at the 4:36 mark of the third quarter, forcing an Aberdeen time out.
The red-hot Seaberg then grabbed an offensive rebound and stepped out to bury a corner three for a 39-16 lead followed by Flores hitting two free throws, staking Elma to a 41-16 lead with 3:38 to go in the frame.
Aberdeen finally got on the board in the period when Ainsworth scored in the paint off a feed from Quezada with 3:09 on the clock.
It was too little, too late for the Bobcats as the Eagles responded with a layup from sophomore guard Isaac McGaffey and – after Aberdeen went 2-for-4 from the free-throw line on two offensive trips – Seaberg made a highlight-reel play.
The 6-foot-3 all-league guard made a steal a few feet from the center line and found himself ahead of the pack, driving to the basket. Seaberg rose up and threw down an emphatic one-handed dunk that brought his teammates and the Elma faithful to their feet.
“This year, I know I’ve been jumping well and my knees didn’t hurt for once,” Seaberg said. “Got a steal and I looked around and Baylor (Ainsworth) fell down, and I was like, ‘It’s time to put this one in.’ So I just jumped up and threw it down.”
Elma capped off a 27-point quarter with threes from senior guard Grant Vessey and Seaberg to take a 54-23 lead, allowing Ferrier to rest most of his starters for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
“We are very well-conditioned and we already played a game where we were down at halftime. We came out at halftime with a heck of a lot of energy,” Ferrier said. “All I told them was, ‘It was time to let loose.’ We came out and trapped a little bit, pushed the pace a little bit and saw that our conditioning level was a little bit better than theirs.”
“(Coach Ferrier) looked at them and said, ‘They don’t look conditioned. They look tired,’” Seaberg said. “We run a lot, so he said, ‘OK, we’re going to run.’ … They couldn’t keep up. They were gassing out.”
Seaberg finished with 22 points to lead all scorers with Traden Carter adding 10 points for the Eagles.
Elma shot 19-0f-54 from the field (35%) and held a 36-28 rebounding advantage, 16 of those coming on the offensive glass.
Benefiting from the new foul rules, Elma made 13-of-25 free throws (52%) in the game. By contrast, Aberdeen went 8-for-41 from the floor (20%), with a near-equal spilt from 2-point range (4-21) and beyond the arc (4-20).
The Bobcats committed 24 turnovers to 13 for Elma, a stat attributed to Elma’s frenetic defensive effort and Aberdeen competing in its season-opening game.
Elma will take on its third opponent in four days when they host Adna at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Aberdeen is back in action at 7 p.m. on Friday with a game at RA Long.
Elma 15 12 27 5 – 59
Aberdeen 11 5 7 7 – 30
Scoring: Elma – Seaberg 22, Carter 10, Studer 7, Vessey 7, Flores 6, Holmes 5, McGaffey 2. Aberdeen – Ainsworth 11, M. Garcia 10, Quezada 4, Scott 3, I. Garcia 2.
Hoquiam 78, Willapa Valley 65
Hoquiam freshman guard Lincoln Niemi had a spectacular varsity debut in leading the Grizzlies to a 78-65 win over Willapa Valley on Wednesday in Menlo.
Niemi scored 42 points – including nine 3-pointers – to go along with six assists, five rebounds and three steals in the season-opening victory.
“Lincoln Niemi had one heck of a performance,” said new Vikings head coach Derek Rask, who took over for longtime head coach Jay Pearson ahead of the season. “He was a difference in the game offensively for them. … We worked to try to double him and get the ball out of his hands, but he still found a way to get shots. He just hurt us all over the floor.”
“Lincoln just got really hot,” Hoquiam head coach and his father Jeff Niemi said, adding that once the Vikings adjusted, his son looked for openings for his teammates. “Once they started to bring the double-team to him, he did a nice job of stepping up and finding other guys. … It was a really nice team effort.”
Another key factor in the game was on the glass, as Hoquiam outrebounded Willapa Valley 41-29, 12-4 on the offensive glass.
“They rebounded so much better than we did,” said Rask. “We struggled to rebound on the defensive end and gave up too many second and even third-chance opportunities.”
Senior Zander Jump had 12 rebounds, seven points and five assists despite sitting out the second quarter with foul trouble.
Grizzlies teammate Aiden Butcher also played well in the first quarter until similar foul troubles led to an extended rest in the second frame, forcing Coach Niemi to rely on his bench.
“They both immediately got into foul trouble right after that first quarter,” Coach Niemi said, noting the contributions of reserves Conlan Higgins and Chance LaBounty. “Conlan came and played really well and Chance came in and got a few rebounds off the bench.”
Willapa Valley hit 26-of-65 shots from the floor (40%) and was led by Nathan Fluke with 22 points.
Blaine King (18 points) and Brody Ritzman (12 points, 7 rebounds) also scored in double figures for the Vikings.
Hoquiam went 31-for-71 from the field (44%), with Lincoln Niemi hitting 17-of-31 shots (55%), including hitting 9-of-16 (56%) from 3-point range.
Hoquiam plays at 7 p.m. Monday at Ocosta High School.
Willapa Valley faces Morton-White Pass at 7 p.m. on Friday at Morton High School.
Hoquiam 21 16 26 15 – 78
Willapa Valley 11 18 17 19 – 65
Scoring: Hoquiam – Niemi 42, Bozich 8, Jump 7, Bryson 5, LaBounty 4, Butcher 4. Willapa Valley – Fluke 22, King 18, Ritzman 12.