Grays Harbor College wrapped up its GHC Men’s Basketball Crossover Tournament, and the first half of the 2019-20 season, with a 77-70 loss to Peninsula on Sunday at Grays Harbor College.
Playing its third game in as many days, the Chokers (9-6 overall) kept the game close at half, trailing by only three points at the break.
But Peninsula (9-2) came out of the locker room in the second half and caught fire. The Pirates went on a 26-4 run over the first eight-plus minutes of the half, taking a 60-35 lead on a layup by O’Nuer Gatluak.
Things got so bad for the Chokers in the half that Grays Harbor head coach Matt Vargas received a technical foul for chiding the referees.
“Hey, I know we stink right now, but we don’t stink that bad,” he said, deriding the officials for what he perceived was an unbalanced distribution of foul calls. “I know it’s a long tournament, but I need you guys to wake up. There is a lot of physical play down at this end too.”
But Vargas wasn’t acting out of emotion, rather, the coach was using the technical as a dual-purpose tactic, hoping his team would start to get some calls and at the same time lighting a spark in his team, which he stated after the game was mentally drained at that point.
“We had nothing to lose at that point,” Vargas said of receiving the technical when his team fell behind by 23 points. “We don’t have housing, so our guys are in some bad spots and they’re exhausted. They’re mentally exhausted, they are physically exhausted. … It’s the end of the semester and they’re asked to play three games in a row. … They’re drained. … It was almost like they were anybody else but there. I told them they are going to have to find a way to fight that’s going to reflect their character.
“I whispered in the officials’ ear that you are going to have to T me up or I”m going to have to do something really bad. He said, ‘You’ve got to do something demonstrative.” And I said, ‘Alright, I’ll give it to ya.”
The strategy worked, as Grays Harbor began to chip away at the Peninsula lead, cutting the deficit to 69-64 on a Zachary Marrotte layup with 2:51 left in the game.
Grays Harbor cut the lead to 74-70 on a Matt Pearson 3-pointer with 38 seconds left, his second long-distance shot of the half.
But time ran out on the Chokers’ comeback attempt as Peninsula converted free throws down the stretch and Grays Harbor failed to make another shot.
Marrotte led Grays Harbor with 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
Antoine Hines scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Chokers. Michael Sampson (11 points) and Zyare Ruffin (10 pts.) also scored in double figures for Grays Harbor, which shot 21-of-53 (40%) as a team.
The bulk of Peninsula’s offensive output came from three players. Jaylin Reed (22 pts.), Davien Harris-Williams (20 pts) and Malik Moore (20) accounted for 81% of the Pirates’ points.
Vargas said he’s looking forward to what the second half of the season may bring to his young team, though the goal remains the same.
“We’re off to a good start this year and people know we’re for real,” he said, adding that his entire team has performed in the classroom, which gives them an advantage as team’s typically loose some players due to academic issues when the semester grades are released. “We’re going to be in a good position because the landscape is going to change. … Our goal is to make the NWAC tournament. So I want us to get better one through 12. I want everybody to get better because the conference record is the only thing that matters.”
Grays Harbor opens the second half of the season at home against Pierce College at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at Grays Harbor College.
GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL
Elma 49, Rochester 37
The Elma Eagles wrapped up play at the prestigious Seaside Tournament by downing Rochester 49-37 in the third-place game on Saturday at Seaside High School.
Kali Rambo and Jalyn Sackrider closed out their stellar tournament runs with solid performances on Saturday. Rambo, who scored 15 points in Friday’s tourney win over Corbett, scored a game-high 20 points to go along with eight steals. Rambo also hit four 3-pointers to complement Sackrider, who once again was dominant in the paint for Elma (5-3).
The 6-foot-3 senior center scored 13 points while grabbing 15 rebounds. Sackrider also collected four steals and three blocks in the Eagles’ 12 point win.
Elma led 17-9 after the first quarter due in large part to Rambo, who hit three 3-point shots in the first frame and scored 11 of her 20 points in the first eight minutes of the ballgame.
Elma cruised from there, leading 26-10 at the half and taking a 36-19 lead into the fourth quarter as Rochester had no answer for the Eagles defense.
“We had a very solid tournament,” Elma head coach Lisa Johnson said of the Eagles’ Oregon trip.
Chief Leschi 57, Willapa Valley 46
In a rare, uncharacteristic performance, Willapa Valley fell behind by double digits early en route to a 57-46 loss to Chief Leschi on Saturday at Willapa Valley High School.
In a battle for third place in the 2B Pacific League, Willapa Valley fell behind 18-6 by the end of the first quarter in a performance that had Vikings head coach John Peterson perplexed.
“The story of the game was we were not ready to play,” the veteran coach said. “They jumped on us and were real physical to start the game and we did not handle it well. … We’re usually ready to go. That’s not like us.”
Warriors guard Alicia Pluff scored 11 of Chief Leschi’s points in the quarter, including hitting three 3-point shots in the frame as she led the Warriors with 15 points on the evening.
Seven of Willapa Valley’s 15 turnovers were in the first quarter.
Britney Patrick scored 15 points to lead Willapa Valley (4-2 overall, Pacific 2B).
Lanissa Amacher added 11 points for the Vikings, which is now tied for third place in league with the Warriors (4-2).
Neah Bay 73, Taholah 17
Taholah struggled facing one of the top teams in the state, losing to Neah Bay 73-17 on Friday in Neah Bay.
The Chitwhins (2-3 overall, 2-0 Coastal 1B) struggled against what Taholah head coach Fred Pope said was “an impressive defense,” falling behind 27-3 after the first quarter and failing to score more than six points in any quarter in the game.
The Red Devils (4-2) had four players score in double figures, led by Allie Greene, who had 16 points. Lei Gagnon scored 15 points for Neah Bay.
Nakeah McCrory led Taholah with 10 points.
Locals place at Pat Alexander Tournament
A quartet of Aberdeen wrestlers and one Elma Eagles grappler stood on the podium of their respective weight classes at the Pat Alexander Invitational on Saturday at Tumwater High School.
Aberdeen’s Drew Lock (138 pounds), Liem Heikkila (195) and Jaden Hoseney (220) all placed second in their respective weight classes as Aberdeen finished in fifth place as a team with 106 points.
Results: 113 pounds — 3, Joel Nelson, Aberdeen. 120 — 2, Drew Lock, Aberdeen. 170 — 4, Seth Brown, Aberdeen. 182 — 4, Trenton Alderman, Elma. 195 — 2, Liem Heikkila, Aberdeen. 220 — 2, Jaden Hoseney, Aberdeen. 285 — 3, Erick Hayter-Ramsey, Aberdeen.