MONTESANO - At the end of one quarter of action in Saturday's District IV second round game in Montesano, the score was: Sultemeier 13, Mossyrock 11.
Say what? After the first 11 minutes in the game, Naselle's Nathan Sultemeier had scored all of the Comets points, 13 in the first period, helping lead the Naselle boys to a 61-42 victory. The Comets are now one win away from advancing to the District IV 2B championship game and earning a seed to the state tournament.
In the early going it was a good thing for the Comets that Sultemeier was hitting his shots because the rest of the team was doing nothing but clanking their tries. Sultemeier scored off the opening tip, added three treys and another deuce on his way to his big first quarter. Part of the problem was due to the Vikings aggressive, slapping, grabbing, pressure defense that collapsed into the middle and wings, tending to leave the top of the key open for Sultemeier's tries.
With Naselle's offensive output sputtering, the Vikings tied the score twice in the early going, first at six, and again at 13 early in the second quarter. Sixth man Alan Erickson was the first Comet other than Sultemeier to hit a shot, coming at three minutes into the second quarter. The Comets went on a 6-0 run that finally gave them a little breathing room going into halftime.
Sultemeier led the Comets with 20 points. Kyle Burkhalter added a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds and Austin Burkhalter had 15 points. Conor Smith came alive offensively in the fourth period with seven points. The 5-foot-8 Sultemeier added six rebounds to his game while Austin and Smith also each had six boards. The Comets eventually ended the game shooting 37 percent on 19 of 51 field goals, 36 percent on 4 for 11 threes, and 76 percent on 19 of 25 free throws. The Comets were only called for 14 fouls while the Vikings were whistled for 24 infractions.
The Vikings' two high scorers for the season, Cyle Coleman with 17 and Jeremy Harper with 13 points, did the bulk of the Mossyrock scoring.
The Vikings' defense began to cost them with foul calls and Kyle drilled 2-of-2 free throws with a little over half of the second quarter gone as the Vikings' fouls began to add up. Deuces from Nick Hines and Austin and another 3-ball from Sultemeier completed an 11-7 quarter and the Comets led 24-18 at the break.
After giving up an easy hoop on the opening possession of the third quarter, the Comets then went on a 10-2 run as three Vikings found themselves in foul trouble early in the second half. Kyle scored six points in a row and Sultemeier and Austin each added a deuce in the surge. The Comets closed out the period with 4-for-4 free throws with two each by Kyle and Austin and a hoop by Austin. Kyle's third foul allowed the Vikings a three- point play as the quarter ended with the Comets holding an 11 point lead after a 16-11 period.
That's when the basketball game ended and the football scrimmage began. The referees' foul calls sent the Comets to the line for 14 free throws while the Vikings were at the line making four of five tries in the last eight minutes. One Viking player was penalized for his fifth foul while Austin spent the last two and a half minutes in the dressing room with a bloody nose.
Before he left, Austin put in seven fourth period points, matching Smith's seven for the quarter. Those two Comets led the Naselle fourth quarter scoring as the Comets closed with a 21-13 fourth period for their 19-point win.
Naselle coach Brian Macy said, "I thought we played very good team defense, but struggled offensively. Mossyrock's defense had something to do with it, I am sure, but we didn't hit shots we normally knock down. Nathan's offense carried us early until the rest of the crew got involved.
"We'll have to bring the same defensive effort on Thursday and up the offense a bit. I think not having an entire week off again will help."
The Comets' next step on the road to the state tournament in Spokane will come Thursday night, 6:30 p.m., at Chehalis' WF West High School against Pacific League rivals Northwest Christian. The Navigators advanced into the semifinal round with first a 74-45 win over Morton on Thursday and then a 77-62 win over the Central League's second place team, Adna, on Saturday. The Comets have now played NWC twice in the last month, having to come from behind to win both games, once in overtime.
The winner of Thursday's game will face the winner of the Toutle Lake-Wahkiakum game in the championship game Saturday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m. at WF West, with both teams advancing to state. The loser drops into a must-win game on Friday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. in the Centralia High School gym. The winner of that game will play for third and fourth at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, at W.F. West, with both teams advancing to state.
NASELLE - Nathan Sultemeier 20, Austin Burkhalter 15, Kyle Burkhalter 14, Conor Smith 7, Nick Hines 2, Alan Erickson 2, John Hines 1
MOSSYROCK - Cyle Coleman 17, Jeremy Harper 13, Jacob Bradley 4, Jonah Bradley 4, Scot Wedam 4