By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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“It's been our Achilles heel all year,” Forks coach Rick Gooding said of turnovers following Friday's game.
“We've worked on it, but it's tough to simulate [in practice], it's hard to bring the same intensity [as in a game].”
Forks (2-9, 4-14) was also limited due to an injury to primary ballhandler Colton Raben, who tweaked a knee in some friendly horseplay before the game.
Raben still managed 12 points on the night.
“He was in tears in the locker room because he was in so much pain. He's usually pretty quick and explosive with the ball and he was not 100 percent there tonight,” Gooding said.
“Luckily he still hit some shots and could handle the ball for us, but they took advantage of him being a half-step slower.”
It seemed that each time the Spartans had momentum and were poised to heel the Bulldogs, a Forks pass was thrown out of bounds or stolen away and turned into easy Montesano points.
“We do not have a lot of kids that have grown up dribbling with the ball in their hands,” Gooding said.
Eight Spartans turnovers in the first quarter gave the Bulldogs a 13-6 lead before Forks trimmed the score to 15-10 heading to the second quarter.
Parker Browning had two acrobatic putbacks off missed Forks shot attempts in the second quarter, helping Forks cut Montesano's lead to 18-16 with 4:20 left in the half.
A beauty of a face-up drive along the left baseline by Spartans senior post Leo Gonzalez had Forks within 22-19 with 1:32 to play before Forks allowed two quick baskets to trail 26-19 at halftime.
The 6-foot-4 Gonzalez had 13 of his team-high 17 points in the first half.
When Forks was able to get the ball across against the Bulldog's trap and get into their halfcourt offense, Gonzalez found himself centered near the free-throw line to help distribute the basketball against Montesano's half-court 2-3 zone.
Having Gonzalez stationed away from the basket hurt the Spartans on the boards, but it was a necessary evil according to Gooding.
“We're trying to bring him high as he's the only kid we have with a little bit of height who can get to the middle and then see everything from there,” Gooding said.
“You stick one of our 5-9 guys there and you are defeated because they can't see over anybody.
“It hurts us to not have him next to the hoop but this helps run our offense against that zone.”
Montesano scored eight of the third quarter's first 10 points, for a 12-2 run from 1:08 of the second quarter to 4:39 of the third.
Kody Usher drained a Bulldog 3-pointer, followed by a Gonzalez turnover and another Usher trey for a 41-25 lead with 1:50 left in the third.
Montesano pulled their press to start the fourth quarter and Forks took advantage, trimming the lead to 50-43 after a Browning bucket with 2:35 to play.
That was as close as the Spartans were able to get, with Montesano hitting late free throws to account for the wider final margin.
With the loss, Forks will host Tenino on Tuesday for sixth place in the Evergreen League.
The winner will play in a crossover playoff against a Trico Division team later this month.
Montesano 62, Forks 47
Montesano 15 11 18 18— 62
Forks 10 9 11 17— 47
Usher 15, Roy 13, Truax 10, Bialkowsky 7, Chastain 6, Herzog 5, Hopsecger 4, Landry 2.
Gonzalez 17, Raben 12, Browning 8, Armas 6, D. Sampson 2, Lawson 2.
No. 9 Montesano 59, Forks 30
FORKS — The Spartans were unable to deny the ninth-ranked Bulldogs (10-0, 18-0) from clinching a share of the Evergreen 1A League title on the Spartans home court on Friday night.
The Spartans (1-10, 3-13) didn't play poorly and weren't intimidated by Montesano, they just didn't have the horses to keep pace with the Bulldogs.
“When you are playing the No. 1 team in the league it's easy to give up, but they didn't do that,” Forks coach Al Scheibner said of his team.
“I don't like losing, but if you are going to lose to the number one team, that's the way to do it, by working hard and never giving up.”
Led by a dominant first-half performance from 6-foot-1 freshman center Jordan Spradlin, Montesano put this one away early, leading 19-8 after one quarter and 38-16 at halftime.
Spradlin registered a double-double for the Bulldogs, scoring 17 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, and grabbing 13 rebounds.
What makes the Bulldogs even more fearsome is they are a youthful team, with no seniors on their roster.
“They have played about 50-60 games together already because they play AAU together in the offseason,” Scheibner said.
“When we went down there, it was running clock to start the fourth quarter, so I'm alright with how this game turned out.
“I think it was the hardest we've worked all season.”
Courtnie Paul and Halle Palmer each had six points to lead the Spartans.
Freshman point guard Skyler DeMatties hit a pair of jumpers off the bench for four Forks points.
The Spartan reserves did well against the Bulldogs second-stringers in the fourth quarter, outscoring Montesano 10-7.
Forks faces a big matchup with Tenino at home on Tuesday and just like the boys game, the girls matchup will decide the sixth-place team from the Evergreen League and a crossover playoff berth.
Montesano 59, Forks 30
Montesano 19 19 14 7— 59
Forks 8 8 4 10— 30
Spradlin 19, Choate 13, Miller 6, S. Floch 6, Kloempken 5, M. Floch 4, Howard 2, Jensen 2.
Paul 6, Palmer 6, Dematties 4, Smith 2, Banks 2, Henderson 2, Collins 2, Flores 2, Leons 2.