MENLO - The Naselle Comets boys four-game winning streak was stopped by the state's number one ranked B team, the Willapa Valley Vikings, in the Valley gym Tuesday, Jan. 17. The Comets absorbed their first league loss, 68-47, and saw their Pacific League record drop to 5-1 and 10-5 overall.

The Vikings took over the undisputed Pacific League lead with their 6-0 league record, 14-1 overall. The Comets are in second place with a 5-1 league record, a bit ahead of 4-2 North Beach and 4-2 South Bend, the Comets opponent tomorrow night, Jan. 26, in Naselle's Lyle Patterson gym.

The undermanned Comets, who only have a six-player rotation while playing eight players, wore down against the big Vikings, who have a nine-player rotation in their 12-player roster. Ryan Freeman and company had the size and quickness advantage over the Comets and they used those traits effectively.

The Comets, who were out-rebounded 35-20 for the game, only trailed 12-9 after one quarter, but fell behind by 10 points, at 27-17, by the half. The Vikings, led by Freeman's 21 game points, along with three other players in double figures, broke away to a 25-point lead with a 26-13 burst in the eight minutes after the intermission.

The Comets were led by two players in double digits. Kyle Burkhalter had 15 points and Aoy Marion 10. Evan Hendrickson followed with nine points. Part of the Comets problem was that they did not shoot very well (35 percent compared to Valley's 54 percent) and they were out rebounded by a large margin, 35-20.

The Comets were able to narrow the gap slightly in the final eight minutes as the Viking used more of their reserves, but the Comets still went home with their first league loss.

NASELLE - Kyle Burkhalter 15, Aoy Marion 10, Hendrickson 9, Johnson 6, Gradt 6; Team rebounds: 20; FG - 17 of 49 for 35 percent, FT - 9 of 12 for 75 percent.

Valley (67) - Ryan Freeman 21, Rick Bannish 14, Lance Anderson 12, Brady Langer 10, Friese 4, Gerow 2, Svinth 2, M. Anderson 2, Hovren, Corey, Camenzind, Frank, Rebounds (35): L. Anderson 12; Assists (14): Langer 5; Steals: Freeman 3; Shooting: FG - 30 of 56 for 54 percent, FT - 5 of 7 for 71 percent.

Comets boys get back on winning path over LoggersW'SHKAH - Without their leading scorer, Evan Hendrickson who was ill, the Naselle Comets boys were entering their important league game with the Wishkah Valley Loggers in a tenuous position. However. Aoy Marion, with a career night, led the Comets to a resounding 69-52 win over the Loggers in the Wishkah Valley gym Friday, Jan. 20. The Comets retained their Pacific League second place position with a 6-1 record, 11-6 overall

Marion dropped in 28 points to lead all scorers and added seven steals and five assists. He was joined by two teammates, Ricky Johnson with a double-double (13 points and 11 rebounds) and Kyle Burkhalter (12 points) in double digit scoring. Freshman Conor Smith was one hoop away from double figures with eight points. The Comets Casey Heagy saw his first varsity action of the season while scoring two points. Wishkah's John Clevenger popped in 24 points to lead the Loggers.

Naselle took the lead early as they worked to gain a 16-11 first quarter lead and a slim 25-22 lead at the half. The Comets then opened things up with a 22-10 third quarter as their Marion-led quickness really bothered the home team. Leading 52-32 at the end of three periods, the Comets saw three points of the lead evaporate, but they easily held on for their 17 point win.

Coach Brian Macy explained, "We didn't have a good first half. We finally got on them in the third quarter and we led by 30 at one point before they closed the gap."

The Comets are one-half game behind Willapa Valley, which improved its league record to 7-0 with a 90-47 thumping of Mary M. Knight. The Comets next two opponents kept pace with the Comets, each with victories that improved South Bend's standing to 5-2, a game behind the Comets, and the Oakville Acorns record to 5-1, only a half game back, but all even with the Comets in the important lost column. South Bend defeated Lake Quinault 67-43 and Oakville beat North Beach 66-51. North Beach dropped to a 4-3 league record with the loss.

The Comets most important game of the season, thus far, will be played in Naselle's Lyle Patterson Gym this Thursday, Jan. 26, when the Comets entertain South Bend. The Comets defeated South Bend 61-47 in a non-league game at South Bend just before Christmas. However, since that date, South Bend has won five of their last seven games and are only a game behind the Comets in the league standings.

Two more equally important league games follow in rapid-fire order. On Saturday, Jan. 28, the Comets travel to Oakville to take on the Acorns, who are only a half game behind the Comets. On Tuesday, Jan. 31, the Comets entertain Raymond at Naselle. The Comets thumped the Gulls 60-33 in a non-league game played right after the New Year's break, but since then the Gulls have been on a roll.

NASELLE 16 14 22 17 - 69

Wishkah 11 11 10 20 - 52

NASELLE (69) - Aoy Marion 28, Ricky Johnson 13, Kyle Burkhalter 12,

Smith 8, Gradt 4, Sultemeier 2, Heagy 2, Griss; Rebounds: Johnson 11;

Assists: Marion 5; Steals: Marion 7; Shooting: FG - 29 of 63 for 46 percent,

FT - 5 of 15 for 33 percent.

Wishkah (52) - John Clevenger 24, Ayres 7, B. Marsh 7, Chak 5, Lund 3,

Heyting 2, Van Blaricom 2, Nelson 2, N. Marsh; FG - 20 of 52 for 38 percent, FT - 6 of 14 for 43 percent.

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