Facing a 15-point deficit, Montesano chipped away before overtaking Raymond in the final minutes of the game to pick up a 54-51 victory on Friday at Bo Griffith Memorial Gymnasium in Montesano.
Similar to its slow start in a 48-29 loss to WF West in Tuesday’s season-opener, Montesano was sluggish out of the gate as Raymond used its high-octane offense to leap out to an early lead.
The Seagulls (1-1 overall) took a double-digit lead at 15-5 when Washington State-bound guard Kyra Gardner feed a pass to senior Sidney Swogger for an easy bucket with 1:33 left in the first quarter.
Raymond extended its lead to 18-5 by the end of the frame when Swogger scored on an offensive rebound and putback with 20 seconds left in the quarter.
“We didn’t do a good job of recognizing where we were on the floor and we were just watching the ball not realizing they were getting behind us,” Montesano head coach Mark Mansfield said of Raymond fast-break offense, which quickly converted Montesano turnovers into points. “They did a great job of seeing the floor and getting the ball up for easy lay-ins. … We were a little impatient offensively early and we tried to force some things. It led to turnovers … and they are a very good team and took advantage of those turnovers.”
“We came into this game a little bit on our heels,” Montesano junior forward McKynnlie Dalan said. “But we had that fight mentality and didn’t want to get kicked in the teeth again. After that first quarter, (Mansfield) told us, ‘This is where it changes. You guys either finish this and put it away or it’s going to be Tuesday all over again.’”
Raymond stretched its lead to 15 points at 22-7 — the largest lead of the game for either team — early in the second quarter.
Montesano (1-1) began to chip away at the Seagulls lead throughout the second frame, cutting it down to single digits at 28-21 on two Dalan free throws with just over a minute left.
But Raymond scored six straight on consecutive threes from sophomore guard Kyndal Koski and Gardner to take a 34-21 lead with 20 seconds left.
A Dalan three with five second until halftime pulled Monte to within 10 at 34-24.
Raymond led 45-30 after scoring on a lay-in from Gardner off a feed from freshman guard Karsyn Freeman followed by a Grace Busenius basket down low on an assist from Gardner, giving the Seagulls a 15-point lead with 2:13 left on the clock.
Then Monte began to mount its comeback, mostly by crashing the boards and using its height and length advantage against the athletic but smaller Seagulls.
A Dalan baseline jumper cut Raymond’s lead to 45-38 at the end of the third and Monte carried its momentum into the fourth quarter.
But with neither team shooting well over the final eight minutes of the game, Raymond was able to hold onto a six-point lead when Freeman scored off a Gardner assist to make it a 49-43 game with just over five minutes left.
Monte made its move.
Dalan used her 6-foot-1 frame to drive and score in the paint followed by crashing the offensive glass for a putback to pull Monte to within a bucket at 49-47 with 4:32 remaining.
Jaiden King pulled the Bulldogs to within a point with a free throw and was followed later by Dalan score in the paint after receiving a nice pass from sophomore Mikayla Stanfield, putting Montesano up 50-49 with 2:15 left.
Raymond regained the lead when Freeman drove the lane and scored with 1:20 to play.
But a Lisherness bucket off another Montesano offensive rebound put Monte up 52-51 five seconds later.
Monte hit 2-of-4 free throws down the stretch — with Dalan and Lisherness going 1-for-2 each — to give Monte a 54-51 advantage with eight seconds left.
A 3-point attempt by Koski as time expired was off the mark, giving the Bulldogs the come-from-behind victory.
Dalan scored a game-high 24 points to go along with 15 rebounds.
Lisherness also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds with Stanfield grabbing nine rebounds for a Monte team that outrebounded Raymond 44-29.
“We got in the locker room Tuesday night (after the WF West loss) and that was the first thing out of (Mansfield’s) mouth, was how important rebounding and defense is. We were lacking that so much and that what lost the game for us,” said Dalan, who added it was a focal point in practice prior to Friday’s game. “All (the coaches) were yelling from the sidelines were ‘Crash the boards. Rebound. Box out.’ … That’s what we pride ourselves on and we had that focus and mentality going into those practices and I think it carried into this game.”
Raymond was led by Freeman and Gardner, who scored 16 points apiece.
After playing what amounted to approximately 5-plus quarters of below-their-standard basketball, Dalan said Friday’s win against a Raymond team many expect to go deep in the 2B state tournament this season was “a huge confidence booster.”
“I think we needed this win to kind of send us through the rest of our preseason because we play some tough teams down the road and I think it showed us how important it is that we play as one,” she said. “Tuesday, not all the pieces were fitting together. Today, I think we finally started playing as one unit. … Finding that confidence and proving that to ourselves is going to be huge going into our next games.”