Grays Harbor College’s women are in a fight for a postseason berth and they got a big boost on Wednesday night at GHC Gym.
Taking on Highline College, which was one game ahead of GHC in the NWAC Western Division standings, the Chokers turned in one of their best games of the season to turn a pivotal contest into a rout, 78-45.
As for the GHC men, they were engaged in a tight battle with the T-Birds before they took flight in the final seven minutes for an 81-73 win.
GHC women 78, Highline 45
The Chokers set the tone early on defense, forcing turnovers and making life tough on the T-Birds. It was more than enough for the offense and put Grays Harbor College in a three-way tie for third place with Highline and Tacoma with four games to play.
GHC never trailed, forcing nine turnovers to start in the first quarter before really hitting its stride in the second quarter. Leading 14-10 after one, the perimeter shooting pushed the Chokers along. Katie Brisbios started the game with back-to-back 3-pointers, while Jaylin Brasher-Norwood started the second quarter with back-to-back treys.
Angela Sikora ended the first half with back-to-back treys of her own, including a buzzer-beater to give the hosts a 38-23 halftime lead on 10-for-17 field goal shooting in the quarter. In between the perimeter barrage, the Chokers pounded the paint for baskets and forced the T-Birds to scramble and hurry. Highline had 14 turnovers in the first half and finished with 26 for the game.
“Defensively, we anticipated where they were going to be and, with 26 turnovers, that huge for our transition offense,” GHC head coach Chad Allan said. “Katie hitting those first couple of shots got everyone relaxed. I think Highline tried to slow down the game to make us over-anxious and I thought the ladies did a great job of playing a different style. We hit our shots.”
The momentum gained in the second quarter carried over into the third — Romey Begay, Brisbios and Sikora drained threes, while Estelle Wilson and Monet Salazar took over inside on drives and post play — for an insurmountable 59-35 lead.
The fourth quarter was a 3-point showcase for Brisbios, Begay, Hepuakea Felealii and Brasher-Norwood to ice the game.
Brisbios led all scorers with 15 points on 5-for-7 3-point shooting, with Alexia Thrower adding 14 points and 10 rebounds and Begay and Brasher-Norwood 13 points each. As a team, GHC had 28 assists on 30 made field goals, led by Begay and Thrower with six each.
“That was the best basketball we’ve played all year — inside, outside, passing, finding the open player,” Allan said. “We play better when we are in the lead and we had a lot of players step up tonight.”
Highline 81, Grays Harbor men 73
A rough and ragged contest between Grays Harbor and Highline was decided on which team could find enough range from the 3-point line. Both teams registered 50 percent of their shots taken behind the 3-point arc, converting 25-for-65 combined for the game.
Highline’s treys turned out to be more timely than Grays Harbor’s threes.
In the first half, both teams fired away. In the paint, the Chokers’ Tiki Hickle kept the interior clear with seven blocked shots. GHC found its range from the perimeter late in the first half with an 11-3 surge — ending with back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers — that gave it a 34-26 halftime lead.
The final trey in the series was a half-court, buzzer beater from Malik Redmond that ignited the crowd as the teams went into the locker rooms for halftime.
The second half was a bit calmer, but Highline took control with its pair for sharpshooters — Val Wilson and Neil Green. The duo combined for all nine of the T-Birds’ 3-point baskets, with Wilson draining six of them and all nine coming in the corners against the Chokers’ man-to-man and zone defenses.
“They started killing us in the corner,” GHC head coach Alonzo Cole said. “We made adjustments, told the guys not to let them go and get on them and they got us. When we went to man, we couldn’t handle it. They hit us in the zone, too, because guys couldn’t get out there on them. This was a tough one to lose.”
Before the Highline duo took off, GHC held its largest lead of the game early in the second half at 36-27 and held a slim 58-55 lead with just over seven minutes left to play. Wilson and Green had already connected on six treys before that point, then Wilson tied the game at 62-62 with a three in the corner with 5:45 to go.
After Wilson’s trey, Highline finished the contest on a 19-11 run to claim the victory.
Wilson led all scorers with 30 points and Green added 22 for Highline. Jacob Rainey led the Chokers with 22 points, including five 3-pointers, and Redmond added 18 points.
On Saturday, Grays Harbor College stays home to host Pierce College in another co-ed doubleheader.
Highline 10 13 12 10 — 45 Grays Harbor 14 24 21 19 — 78
Highline (45) — Kahele-Madali 3, Suggs, Cook 2, Kaye 6, Pino, Hansgen 12, Westbrook, Snyder 3, Swanes, Bennett, Puoy 8, Miller 11. FG — 16-55. FT — 10-12.
Grays Harbor (78) — Brisbios 15, Begay 13, Wilson 6, Falealii 3, Thrower 14, Efferson, Sikora 9, Brasher-Norwood 13, Salazar 5. FG — 30-68. FT — 3-13.
Highline (81) — Jackson 2, Casey, Wilson 30, Orme 12, Townsend, Green 22, Anderson 6, McCall, Murphy 2, Hanks 7, Hudson, Matheis. FG — 24-62. FT — 19-24.
Grays Harbor (73) — Hickle 2, Rowland 4, Redmond 18, Robinson 3, Rainey 24, Phillips 7, Bean 3, Jackson 6, Leslie 6. FG — 30-70. FT — 2-3.
Halftime: Grays Harbor 34, Highline 26.