WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Grays Harbor 65, Centralia 48
Grays Harbor handed Centralia its first league loss of the season in a 65-48 victory on Wednesday in Aberdeen.
Previously, the Chokers (14-9, 5-2 NWAC West) built an early lead but ended up losing to the Blazers (13-9, 7-1) 66-54 when the teams first met on Jan. 9.
Grays Harbor’s Isabel Hernandez said it was good to bounce back after dropping a game to the Blazers earlier in the season.
“We had great team chemistry and we were all playing unselfishly and working together,” she said. “Everybody was working hard and it really showed an improvement from previous games.”
Both teams struggled for control in the first quarter, with the Chokers protecting a slim 10-6 lead after the first 10 minutes of play.
Grays Harbor got more of its shots to fall in the second quarter and started the period on a 9-2 run before the Blazers called a timeout.
Sandin Kidder got off to a slow start in the first quarter and turned it on in the second quarter by hitting two of her 3-point attempts to fall while the Chokers pulled away.
Kidder led the Chokers with 21 points and added a team-high 14 rebounds to her stat line.
Grays Harbor went into the halftime break with a 29-15 lead and held a double-digit lead against the Blazers for the rest of the game.
Chokers head coach Chad Allan said his team’s energy was the best it has been to date.
“Today was our best effort day the whole season,” he said. “The pressure of staying in front of them and not letting them have easy second shots was a huge factor today. Our effort getting a hand out and rotating was great today.”
Despite not closing the gap, the Blazers didn’t go down quietly in the second half. The Blazers began running a full-court press defense that was able to cause a few turnovers down the stretch.
The Chokers turned the ball over 25 times, but also got Centralia to commit 24 turnovers.
Hernandez said she was impressed with the way her team defended when the Blazers looked to speed up the pace in the fourth quarter.
“We worked together well, we were trapping, we were patient letting them bring the ball up and it really allowed us to work together and cause pressure,” she said. “With that 10-second rule we were holding them there, which gave us the advantage offensively.”
Charleea Armstrong applied pressure to the Blazers ball-handlers and came away with six steals on the night to go along with her 14 points.
Grays Harbor will be back at home to face Pierce at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Grays Harbor defeated Pierce 74-67 when the teams faced each other in Puyallup on Jan. 12.
Allan said his team is taking steps in the right direction with wins like the one against Centralia and is hoping some minor adjustments can get the Chokers to the next level.
“We’re still putting up 65 while still not having some things taken care of. When you turn the ball over 25 times, those possessions you could have put up points,” he said. “We all agreed that we could get better. This wasn’t necessarily a great game, but it’s a good game effort-wise against a team that beat us.”
MENS COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Centralia 72, Grays Harbor 59
Poor perimeter shooting plagued the Chokers yet again as their losing streak reached eight games with a 72-59 home loss to Centralia on Wednesday.
Grays Harbor (8-14, 0-8 NWAC West) is still winless in conference after a night where 3-pointers weren’t falling consistently for the Chokers.
Grays Harbor shot 4-for-29 from beyond the arc and allowed 11 offensive rebounds as Centralia (15-8, 5-3) expanded the lead to double digits in the last few minutes of the contest.
Though the offense didn’t execute the game plan to his satisfaction, Grays Harbor head coach Matt Vargas was more concerned about that potential impact the losing streak has had on his players’ intensity.
“We are so concerned and shell shocked with losing eight in a row that I think sometimes we can’t compartmentalize. We’re so focused on getting the stop that we forget to go get the ball. They missed all their shots and we couldn’t recover the ball.”
In the second half, Grays Harbor went with a triangle and two defense with three defenders focused on locking down the paint while two guards were responsible for defending the perimeter.
Vargas instructed his players to sag off of Centralai’s guards as the Blazers went 1-for-12 from beyond the arc.
Centralia’s Marques Gibson did most of his damage in the paint, leading the Blazers with 17 points.
Grays Harbor’s Zyare Ruffin also put up 17 points and said that the Chokers are going to need to bring more energy to practice before they see results on game day.
“All that starts in practice. We have to make some adjustments, a lot of adjustments,” he said. “We have to go hard in practice because it really showed when we were boxing out and crashing the boards.”
Despite their struggles, the Chokers were still within striking distance late in the second half. Centralia was protecting a seven-point lead with approximately five minutes to go, but the Chokers offense couldn’t close the gap as the Blazers opened the lead up 68-58 with two minutes to go.
Grays Harbor will be back in action on Saturday for another home game against Pierce at 4 p.m. and the Chokers decided to have a longer than normal postgame meeting.
Vargas invited his players to provided constructive criticism of his game plan during the 30-minute meeting. Though the conversation was testy at times, Vargas said it was good to hear feedback from Trevor Ridgway.
“I’m so proud of Trevor for speaking up,” he said. “He said some things to me in postgame that I think were really beneficial for everyone to hear.”
Ruffin also thinks the Chokers will be headed in the right direction soon now that the team has discussed what changes need to be made going forward.
“I still believe in everyone in this locker room and this team overall,” he said. “All these losses have been a learning experience and I feel like pretty soon it’s going to come together.”