FORKS — Forks came within seconds of knocking off Evergreen 1A League boys basketball champion Montesano, but Bulldogs’ star Trace Ridgway hit a basket in the waning seconds Monday night.
The heartbreaking 55-54 loss ended the Spartans’ regular season (the game was a makeup of a game postponed last month due to snow), but Forks still finishes second in its final year in the Evergreen 1A League and begins postseason play at home Friday.
Meanwhile, the Spartan girls also played Montesano tough until the fourth quarter, losing their season finale 60-38. Forks was down by less than 10 points entering the fourth quarter.
Going back to the boys’ game, it was a tough loss for the Spartans to take, said coach Rick Gooding. He expects his team to learn and grow from it.
“We led the entire game. We’re still young. A lot of it is on me,” Gooding said.
The Spartans got out to a lead of 15-9 after the first quarter and 34-24 at the half. They went into the fourth quarter up 45-37 and stretched that lead out to nine points in the fourth.
But the Bulldogs, who ended up not losing a single game in league play, got a couple of huge fourth-quarter 3-pointers from Braden Dohrmann to cut into Forks’ lead. Montesano ended up taking a lead late.
The Spartans’ Trey Baysinger, just named co-MVP of the league yesterday, hit two clutch free throws with 13 seconds left to give Forks a 54-53 lead. But Ridgway responded with a game-winning basket in the final seconds to lift the Bulldogs to the win.
Gooding said his players can tell themselves they darn near beat an undefeated league champion and build off of that confidence. After the game, the loss hurt, however.
“Our kids were bummed. That was two games in a row,” in which Forks lost after holding a second-half lead, Gooding said. “Sometimes, there’s only one way to learn. You can stop having a wishbone and start having a backbone.”
Raymond Davis led the Spartans with a career-high 19 points. Baysinger scored 17 and co-league MVP Tony Hernandez—Flores also scored 17.
The Spartans (4-4, 13-7) tied with Elma and Hoquiam in league play (they split with both teams, which both finished 4-4), but they get the second-place finish and playoff seeding due to point differential.
That means Forks gets to host Seton Catholic (6-4, 11-9), the third-place team from the Trico League. The game is scheduled to be played at 7 p.m. Friday, though the time could be changed because of the long drive from Vancouver to Forks.
Montesano 55, Forks 54
Monte. 9 15 13 18 — 55
Forks 15 19 11 9 — 54
Montesano (55) — Wills 12, Daniels 11, Ridgway 9, Olsen 9, Dohrmann 6, Bjornsgard 4, Lovell 2, Tyler 2.
Forks (54) — Davis 19, Baysinger 17, Hernandez-Flores 17, Olson 1.
Forks hung right with league co-champion Montesano as the Spartans were tied in the third quarter with the Bulldogs.
But Montesano went on a big run to the end the third quarter, taking a 44-35 lead into the fourth. The Bulldogs outscored the Spartans 16-3 in the fourth to win going away.
“We ran out of gas there a little bit,” said coach David Hurn. He said he was proud of how well his girls fought until the end.
“I’m proud of that game,” he said.
It was a game of endings for the Spartans, who finished 2-6 in league and 8-11 overall. It was their final game of the year, the final game they would play in the Evergreen 1A League and the last game for five seniors — Rian Peters, Jayden Olson, Savannah Jinneman, Mya Rondeau and Elliahna Kilmer. Peters led the Spartans with 14 points in her final game for Forks.
Hurn pointed out that he started out as coach the same year that these girls started out playing high school basketball.
“It’s going to be different, I started when they started. It’s going to be different for me. I appreciate all the work and commitment they gave,” he said.
Hurn also said it’s going to be weird not being in the Evergreen 1A League anymore. Forks is dropping down to 2B next year and will play in the Pacific 2B with schools such as Ilwaco, Raymond and South Bend.
“This is the league I played in 15-15 years ago. This is what I’m used to,” Hurn said. Still, he’s looking forward to the Pacific 2B league because it will allow more playoff opportunities. This year, only three girls’ teams were taken from the Evergreen 1A League and Forks missed out on the playoffs as the Spartans finished fourth.
Chloe Leverington, one of Forks’ returning stars, finished with 11 points.
Montesano 60, Forks 38
Monte. 11 18 15 16 — 60
Forks 14 8 13 3 — 38
Forks (38) — Peters 14, Leverington 11, Wood 4, Kilmer 4, Rowley 3, Neel 2.