NASELLE - For the second game in a row, the Naselle Comets lost their floor and scoring leader Sean Houghton to fouls. The Comets also lost their top rebounder Robin Andrea via fouls only seconds after Houghton's departure.
Even with a big part of their game sitting on the sidelines, the Comets still had a good chance to beat the Lake Quinault Elk in their Pacific League boys basketball game, in a game played Friday in the Naselle gym.
The Comets lost 53-51, in a game which had originally been scheduled for the Elk's Amanda Park gym, but had to be moved to Naselle because of plumbing problems in that facility. The loss dropped Naselle's league record to 3-5 and 4-8 overall.
The Comets' losing streak extended to four games with the last two losses coming by a total of five points, with each loss suffered in the closing seconds of the games.
The teams battled through a near dead-even first half with the Elk earning a slim one point lead after one quarter and the Comets responding with a one point margin in the second. The result was a 30-all tie at the intermission.
The third quarter turned into a shooter's nightmare when neither team could connect on their shots. If it wouldn't have been for JV player Dan White, who had one quarter of varsity eligibility remaining for this game, the Comets would have been in deeper trouble.
"Dan came in and filled in when we were in foul trouble," said coach Ryan Bjornsgard. "He got a couple of rebounds, took an offensive charging call, and made three of four free throws."
The Elk managed to win the third quarter battle 8-6 and led 38-36 after three.
The fourth quarter is when the Comets offense, keyed by two three-point bombs from freshman Evan Hendrickson, came back to life. The problem was that so did the Elk offense. The back and forth battle found the Comets down 51-47 with 30 seconds to play.
The Comets problems were compounded by the fact that Houghton and Andrea had each fouled out with about a minute to play. A Petrovich assist then set up Hendrickson for a trey which brought Naselle to within a point of the lead.
An Elk turnover and foul put Petrovich on the foul line and he made one of two to tie the game at 51. The Elk again turned the ball over but Naselle wasn't able to capitalize on the two free throws that they were awarded. The Elk turned the ball over yet one more time, giving Naselle the ball under the Elk basket with 3.9 seconds left.
The Elk's Chris Richards intercepted Naselle's inbound pass, got off a shot which missed, rebounded his miss, and connected on the game winning shot as time ran out. The sudden turn of events sent the Elk home with the 53-51 win.
Houghton, with 19 game points, three assists, and five steals, and Jordan Petrovich, with 15 points, led the Comets offense. Hendrickson was just out of double figures with nine points. Robin Andrea did the hard work under the boards with 15 rebounds as well as by making five steals.
The Naselle JVs beat the Elk JVs 60-52. Dan White led the young Comettes with 16 points scored in three quarters of play. Aoy Marion added 15 points in only two quarters of JV action. The Comet JVs are now 7-1 in league, 7-3 overall.
Because of the change of venue for this game, the Comets last regular season game of the year will be played in the Lake Quinault gym, instead of in Naselle, on Feb. 8.
The Comets continue their league schedule at Lacey against Northwest Christian this Thursday, Jan. 16, and at Oakville next Tuesday, Jan. 21, with each game a Pacific League game.
Quinault 12 18 8 15 - 53
Naselle 11 19 6 15 - 51
Lake Quinault (53) - Jed Nebel 14, Chris Richards 13, C. Tweed 9, Blake 7, Kalama 5, Winningham 4, R. Tweed 1; Shooting: FG - 21/44 = 48 percent, 3s - 4 made, 7/14; Rebounds (30)
Naselle (51) - Sean Houghton 18, Jordan Petrovich 15, Hendrickson 9, Gradt 6, White 3, Andrea, Queral, Badger, Queener. Marion; Shooting: FG - 15/45 = 33 percent, 3s - 8 made, FT - 14/29; Rebounds (31): Andrea 15; Assists: Houghton 3; Steals: Andrea 5, Houghton 5