MATLOCK - "The first half certainly wasn't pretty, but the kids responded to some changes that we made at the half and and they played well in the second half," said Naselle coach Ryan Bjornsgard.
"For some reason, we weren't ready to play at the early tip-off time (there was no JV game) and we had no energy in the first two quarters. The guys listened to what they needed to do and they played much better. We didn't shoot much better in the second half but we took care of the ball and got things done."
The Comets did that as they rolled to their fifth league win in a row by a score of 55-39 over the Mary M. Knight Owls. NHS's Pacific League record climbed to 8-5 and kept them in a virtual tie for the league's fourth place spot, with South Bend, at 8-5. However, South Bend has the current tiebreaker over NHS and the teams meet again this Thursday, Jan. 6, two days after Naselle plays undefeated league leader Willapa Valley. Naselle is now 9-8 overall.
NHS scorers were led by Sean Houghton with 26 points. Jordan Petrovich had 10 points. No other Comet was near double figures as they played all twelve players who were on the bench Greg Queener was suffering from the flu so he did not play much.
Naselle led 11-5 after one quarter but only 18-17 at the half after they lost a 12-7 second period. Bjornsgard said, "We didn't shoot well at all in the first half (only seven for 31 from the field) and we let the Owls outplay us."
The Comets turned things around when they came out of the dressing room for the second half. They began to play with more energy and purpose, according to the coach, and they also began to shoot much better (11 for 26 in the second half). That effort resulted in a 17-7 third period and a 35-24 lead going into the last eight minutes.
The fourth period turned out to be the best offensive quarter for both teams with NHS winning the battle 20-15. Bjornsgard said, "It really got rough as the Owls started fouling us to get the ball. We made nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter and Sean had 13 of his points in the last quarter to help us get the win."
The Comets' 55-39 win set them up for a Tuesday meeting with the Valley Vikings, who have yet to taste defeat. (That game was completed too late for this edition of the paper.) Naselle plays a huge game, their last home game of the year (barring a home tournament game) this Thursday, Feb. 6, against South Bend. In order to play a home tournament game, the Comets will have to finish either third or fourth in the league. They will probably be in fifth place going into the SB game unless there is an upset or two before that game.
They then finish the regular season this Saturday, Feb. 8, at Lake Quinault, in a game that was changed from Naselle to Amanda Park after the teams' first game this year had to be played in Naselle because of plumbing problems in the Quinault school.
Naselle 11 7 17 20 -55
Knight 5 12 7 15 -39
Naselle (55) - Sean Houghton 26, Jordan Petrovich 10, Hendrickson 5, Gradt 4, Andrea 4, Badger 2, Queral 2, White 2, Marion, Torppa, Queener, Johnson; FG - 18/57 = 32 percent, 3s - 3/16, FT - 16/20; Rebounds: Petrovich 9, Andrea 6, Houghton 6; Assists: Houghton 4; Steals: Petrovich 3; Team Turnovers (10)
Mary M. Knight (39) - D.J. Koch 12, Albaugh 10, Shumate 10, Finch 4, Brehmeyer 3, Wiggins, Skelton, Spaulding; FG - 15/51 = 29 percent. 3s - 2/10, FT - 7/13; Team Turnovers (26)