VANCOUVER — A big game from a big-time player combined with a stingy defense led the Montesano Bulldogs into the state tournament with a 63-37 victory over La Center in the consolation final of the 1A District IV Tournament Monday afternoon.
Bulldogs center Zoe Hutchings dominated the game. The Wildcats had no solution against Monte’s 6-foot3 junior, who scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 19 rebounds.
Monte (15-9 overall) seized control in the opening frame, gaining a 14-3 lead on a 3-pointer from senior guard Glory Grubb in the final minutes of the first quarter.
La Center (12-12) chipped away at Monte’s lead, cutting the deficit to 19-16 in the second quarter. But the Bulldogs responded to take a 23-16 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats made another run in the third quarter, getting to within a bucket after Taylor Stephens scored to trim Monte’s lead to 23-21.
Once again, the Bulldogs had an answer. With Monte holding a 33-27 lead in the third quarter, Hutchings took control, scoring 13 straight points to give the Bulldogs a 19-point advantage in the fourth quarter.
Montesano’s defense held Stephens, who entered the game averaging 21 points a contest, to just seven points on the afternoon.
“Our game plan was to keep La Center from getting open looks from the 3-point line and to contain Taylor Stephens,” Montesano head coach Julie Graves said. “Zoee Lisherness, Paige Lisherness and Katie Granstrom did an outstanding job of defending Stephens while the rest of the team did their jobs of staying with shooters and helping off of their non-scorers.”
Montesano’s defense held La Center to 14-of-60 (23 percent) while hitting 27-of-53 shots.
Aside from Hutchings, Monte senior guard Lexi Lovell reached double figures, scoring 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
“We did a much better job of taking care of the basketball and executing in our half court game. We only had 13 turnovers, which is half of what we had when we played La Center last Tuesday,” Graves said of her team’s offensive performance. “I am also pleased that we had balanced production throughout the team. The girls had a great practice on Sunday and came out and executed the game plan today.”
The victory gives Monte its seventh consecutive trip to the state regionals, where they will take on Zillah in the opening round (time, date, location to be determined).
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
The Grays Harbor Chokers women’s basketball team split a pair of games recently, losing in overtime to Lower Columbia on Saturday before a convincing win over Pierce at home on Monday.
Grays Harbor 79, Pierce 65
The Grays Harbor Chokers ended a short two-game skid with a 79-65 victory over Pierce College on Monday in Aberdeen.
Sandin Kidder and Jaylynn Webster had huge games for the Chokers (12-9, 6-4 Northwest Athletic Conference).
Kidder scored a game-high 30 points, including a 5-for-7 shooting night from beyond the arc.
Webster came off the bench and was efficient, hitting 10-of-11 shots to score 22 points in 20 minutes of play.
Grays Harbor held a 33-28 halftime lead.
Grays Harbor hosts Tacoma at 6 p.m. on Wednesday before playing its last road game of the regular season against Green River at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Lower Columbia 71, Grays Harbor 69 (OT)
Grays Harbor saw is sizable halftime lead evaporate en route to a 71-69 overtime loss to Lower Columbia on Saturday in Longview.
The Chokers held a 14-point lead after shooting 10-for-18 from the field and scoring 25 points in the second quarter.
But Lower Columbia (16-9, 8-2 NWAC) rallied to tie the game at the end or regulation, outscoring the Chokers in the fourth quarter 12-4 in the process.
The lead changed hands several times in the final minute of overtime before Lower Columbia emerged with the 71-69 victory.
Charleaa Armstrong led Grays Harbor with 17 points.
The Chokers’ Sandin Kidder and Carina Mendoza also scored in double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively.