Monte girls overcome power outage and Elma to advance to regionals

Montesano overcomes power outage and Elma to advance to regionals

The East County Civil War has had its moments on the football field, on the baseball and softball diamonds and on the basketball court.

You can easily add Saturday’s district-to-regional girls basketball game at Hoquiam Square Garden to that long, historic list.

A nearly hour-long power outage at halftime brought the Montesano-Elma contest to a standstill with the Bulldogs leading, 18-15.

Once the power returned, Montesano grabbed the momentum and pulled away from rival Elma, 46-30, to secure the second and final District IV 1A berth into the state regionals.

Unheralded prior to the season, Montesano (17-7) earned its sixth straight regional berth. The Bulldogs will take on Freeman in a winner-to-state, loser-out contest scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Tumwater.

Elma’s season came to an end at 20-3.

“I felt like the kids were loose before the game, but that extra hour kept them loose; they came focused and ready to play today,” Montesano head coach Julie Graves said. “It was a great effort all the way around.”

“It was a great season, but you don’t want to end like this,” Elma head coach Lisa Johnson said. “We were playing not to lose. (Montesano) executed and they hit their shots. I have to remember that this is a very young team. I felt we would respond after halftime.”

The power outage affected just a small portion of Western Hoquiam, but it was more than enough to turn the Garden dark with just over a minute left at halftime.

In the dark, the players stayed loose and stayed warm. The fans mulled around, while the coaches and school administrators paced and worried.

One question that was posed during the outage was whether a team would gain an advantage from the extended break. Montesano’s short bench certainly got a rest, but Elma’s players got a chance to shake off a rough first half on offense.

It turns out the break didn’t affect the teams all that much. The second half was just as physical as the first half. Montesano needed just as much rest to battle with Elma’s depth. The Eagles were unable to find their range on offense against the Bulldogs’ defense.

Montesano limited the Eagles to 14 percent (11-of-78) field-goal shooting for the contest.

Quin Mikel (team-high 10 points) hit a driving jumper to start the third quarter for Elma, giving it a bit of shine coming out of the halftime break. However, Montesano’s Samantha Stanfield drained a 3-point basket from the corner on the ensuing possession at 21-17.

Elma kept the pressure on, especially with its full-court defense, but its offense never found the range needed.

“We just didn’t do the little things today,” Johnson said. “You can’t have two three-point quarters and expect to win at this level and at this time of the season. … We were a little tight. We missed some shots down low where we missed the hoop or even went over the backboard.”

Montesano relied on its sophomore post, Zoe Hutchings (game-high 12 points and 11 rebounds), to spearhead the offense. Elma’s defense collapsed around her in the paint, allowing the Bulldogs’ perimeter shooters and drivers room to maneuver and score.

Hutchings’ work in the paint was pivotal in the first half for Montesano, fighting with Elma’s Jalyn Sackrider, Mikel and Molly Johnston.

“Zoe really played a great game down low,” Graves said. “She was more focused tonight and really played hard down low. Coming out, with Sam hitting the three after the break, we took the momentum and ran with it. You don’t know how the kids would respond to that (break), but it felt like the kids ran with it.”

In the third, Montesano worked its inside-out game to a 15-3 quarter to lead 33-18. A last-second basket by Lexi Lovell (11 points), nearly identical to the one she hit to end the first half, gave the Bulldogs a momentum boost.

Elma’s full-court defense made life tough for Montesano in the fourth quarter. However, it didn’t result in enough offense needed to trim the double-digit deficit.

The Bulldogs used enough inside baskets and free throws to hold off the Eagles.

Monte 11 7 15 13 — 46

Elma 12 3 3 12 — 30

Montesano (46) — Granstrom 8, Hutchings 12, Grubb 4, Stanfield 9, Lovell 11, Lisherness 2, Perkinson. FG — 14-39 (.359). FT — 14-30.

Elma (30) — Sackrider 3, Bieker, Burgher 5, Sutherby, Johnson 1, Mikel 10, Johnston 4, Rambo 7. FG — 11-78 (.141). FT — 5-13.