In the regular season, good teams can often overcome slow starts.
In the postseason — particularly at the state-tournament level — slow starts can be crushing.
Unfortunately for the Montesano Bulldogs, another slow start to a game ended any hopes of hoisting a state-championship trophy after a 64-36 loss to Wapato in a 1A State quarterfinal game on Thursday at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
The Bulldogs (22-5 overall) looked a step behind and indecisive early on and the No. 3 seed Wolves made Monte pay.
Wapato opened the game on an 11-0 run before Monte senior guard Maia Young’s steal and breakaway layup got the Bulldogs on the board at the 1:45 mark of the first quarter.
Late in the quarter, Wapato (23-1) took a double-digit lead at 13-3 before Monte senior Mikayla Stanfield scored in the paint to make it a 13-5 with less than 30 seconds to go in the period.
Matters deteriorated for Monte in the second quarter as turnovers mounted and Wapato sharpshooter KK Bass got hot from long range.
Bass made five shots in the period — three from beyond the arc — to bury the Bulldogs under a 34-12 halftime deficit.
“I didn’t think our defense was that bad, overall, we just didn’t convert on the offensive end,” Montesano head coach Mark Mansfield said of the first half woes. “We wanted to get the ball inside and we didn’t do a good job of that, and we didn’t attack the basket like we should have. … It was almost as if we had a little indecision about what we were going to do.”
In the second half, Monte attempted to turn around its fortunes.
Playing with more energy and an increased sense of urgency, Monte whittled down the Wolves lead to 41-25 after a 7-1 run capped by a bucket in the paint from Montesano senior guard Jaiden King at the 2:05 mark of the third quarter.
“We responded well in the third quarter,” Mansfield said. “The stuff that we talked about yesterday and this morning about what we wanted to do, we did it in the third quarter and had success,” Mansfield said. “But we were so far behind, they’d hit a three and we were just scrambling defensively to find something to slow them down and get some turnovers.”
Turnovers and poor shooting continued to plague the Bulldogs through the remainder of the frame as Wapato pushed the lead to 45-27 on another Bass three with 13.6 left on the clock.
Montesano would get no closer as Wapato scored the first four points of the fourth to regain its 20-plus point advantage and relegate the Bulldogs to the consolation rounds of the state tournament.
Montesano was led by Stanfield, who scored 11 points to go along with seven rebounds.
King had eight points and four boards while freshman forward Evanjillie “Jillie” Dalan had seven points and a team-high 12 rebounds for Montesano.
Bulldogs senior and 1A Evergreen League MVP McKynnlie Dalan had six points and seven rebounds while hampered with four fouls.
Montesano shot 13 for 48 from the field (27%) and made 9 of 17 free throws (53%) while committing 25 turnovers.
Bass led the Wolves with 23 points as Wapato shot 11 for 27 (41%) from 3-point range and won handily despite being outrebounded by Monte 37-25.
The loss ends the Bulldogs’ hopes of winning a state title as No. 4 Monte will face No. 9 Freeman in an elimination game at 10:30 a.m. on Friday in Yakima, after press time for The Daily World. The winner will advance to the state fourth/sixth-place game at 8 a.m. Saturday.
“One of our goals all season was to play on Saturday. Whether it was for first, third our fourth. … That is still in front of us,” Mansfield said. “Obviously we are disapointed. … We can only play our game and have to bring our best effort for 32 minutes.”
Montesano 5 7 16 8 – 36
Wapato 13 21 11 19 – 64
Scoring: Stanfield 11, King 9, E. Dalan 7, M. Dalan 6, Young 3. Wapato – Bass 23, Wheeler 15, Espinoza 9, Parrish 8, Johnson 6, Kenoras 3.