FORKS — An in-season pep talk went a long way for sharp-shooting Forks forward Cort Prose.
Prose scored 18 points on six 3-pointers in front of a packed house Friday as the Spartans sank Neah Bay 77-50 in a nonleague boys basketball contest.
“Last game at Aberdeen, his minutes were down and we had a serious heart-to-heart,” Forks coach Rick Gooding said. “He was worried I was going to pull him if he made mistakes, so not being hard-headed, I talked with him and kudos to him, he responded.
“Basically, I told him we can’t have you out there playing indecisively and afraid to make plays. He can flat stroke the basketball. And he’s more than just a shooter, he can do a lot of things for us.”
Prose knocked down treys in every quarter, helping the Spartans (6-1) run out to a 24-3 lead after the first period, 40-18 at halftime and 56-36 entering the final frame.
“I did feel confident with my shot and I got some good looks and they started to fall, so I kept putting them up,” Prose said.
Forks took advantage of 29 Neah Bay turnovers, and Prose also got some help from his teammates in a game that showcased his teams growth.
“Without a doubt it does [show improvement],” Gooding said. “People can knock that summer league stuff all they want, but getting all that game time, and learning how to play with a lead, it all adds up.”
Parker Browning led all scorers with 21 for the Spartans, while Jeffrey Shumack had nine points, Austin Flores and Marky Adams each had eight and Cole Baysinger chipped in seven, all coming in Forks’ big first quarter.
No rally this time
Last season, the Spartans held a 17-point lead over the Red Devils in the third quarter before falling at home to the eventual Class 1B state champions 73-69.
“We talked about it at halftime, being in the same situation as last year with a big lead,” Gooding said.
“Kudos to the kids, they brought it right back and stretched it right back out when Neah Bay was chipping away [at the lead].”
After their slow start the Red Devils were able to pull within 13 points in the second quarter at 26-13, but eight straight points by Browning curtailed that Neah Bay comeback bid.
“I couldn’t hit anything inside, but we played really well as a team,” Browning said.
After Rwehabura Munyagi Jr. posted six straight points to pull the Red Devils within 17 with less than a minute to play in the third, Prose answered back with a huge 3-pointer coming out of a timeout.
Highlights were hard to come by on a night of mourning for the Neah Bay community.
Jamie McGimpsey, 37, the stepfather of Red Devils’ senior standout Kenrick Doherty Jr., died of a heart attack in the early morning hours Friday.
Doherty started the contest and scored 13 points with four rebounds and four steals.
Munyagi scored 11 points, grabbed five rebounds, made four electrifying blocks to go with four assists and two steals.
Cameron Moore led the Red Devils (1-1) with 14 points.
“The best thing for us is we have another one [game] Saturday and one on Monday,” Neah Bay coach Ben Maxson said.
“We have a lot to work on and we still have to figure out how we fit together. We have a lot of pieces. But we will be just fine.”
The Red Devils faced Seattle Lutheran late Saturday, and host Taholah on Monday.
Forks has a long layoff until playing against R.A. Long in the Port Angeles Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29.
Forks 77, Neah Bay 50
Neah Bay 3 15 18 14— 50
Forks 24 16 16 21— 77
Neah Bay (50) — Moore 14, Doherty 13, Munyagi 11, Svec 6, Tyler 4, A. Bitegeko 2, S. Bitegeko, Bain, Dulik, Johnson, Greene.
Forks (77) — Browning 21, Prose 18, Schumack 9, Flores 8, Adams 8, Baysinger 7, Barr 2, Tejano 2, Johnson 2, Archibald, Maxfield.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]