NASELLE - Friday the Thirteenth was nothing but lucky for Comets Austin Burkhalter and Nate Sultemeier as they each scored 13 points on Friday at Naselle and Nick Hines poured in 15 more in an impressive 68-47 victory over Knappa. The non-league encounter was a tune-up for both squads as they enter post-season competition next week. Naselle will play the Valley-Napavine winner at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18 in Montesano in the second round of the District IV 2B tournament.
The victory leaves the Comets at 16-4 at the end of the regular season after they won the Pacific 2B League with a 10-2 record. "They (Knappa) are a quality ball club and this was a great game to get us ready for district," Coach Brian Macy said. "They really raise the intensity level of any game they are in."
Unfortunately Friday the Loggers were like a doughnut-they had no center. Their 6-foot-7 Jesse Moreland missed the game due to the flu that is going around local schools. Never the less, the first quarter was fast and furious, with the Loggers in front 16-15, but after several ties and lead changes Naselle went ahead to stay 30-26 at halftime.
The Comets ran away with the second half 38-21 as 13 players saw action and eight scored. Hines had four assists and three steals to go with his 15 points and helped hold Knappa's fabulous freshman guard, Mitch Cokley to 10 points. Burkhalter grabbed eight rebounds to augment his lucky 13 points and equally fortunate was Sultemeier with 13 markers, five rebounds and five assists.
Conor Smith saw eight as his lucky numeral as he scored that many points and brought down an equal number of rebounds. Drew Macy also nailed eight points as he continues to be a solid contributor, Gabe See and Alan Erickson each added six and played "very productive minutes" off the bench, and Stefan Griss scored two points. Macy said, "It was great to see all of the seniors contribute in their final home game. Their class has added a great deal to all of our sports programs." Competing in their last home game at Lyle Patterson Gymnasium were seniors Sultemeier, Smith, See, Alex Bennett, and Griss.
If this was only a tune-up then Comets fans are ready to hear, "Gentlemen, start your engines" at the district tournament as Naselle turned the ball over but 11 times against Knappa's famous defensive pressure. Meanwhile the Loggers tossed the basketball away 19 times, but they did out-rebound Naselle 39-30.
"We took care of the ball well tonight, took good shots and they started to fall, especially after the first period," Macy explained. "I hope we can keep playing like this at district."
Knappa 16 10 9 12 --47
Naselle 15 15 16 22 --68
Knappa-Mitch Cokley 10, Tevan Klauser 6, Nate Boardman 9, Dillon Moreland 2, Steve Tadei 20
Naselle-Ollie Baker, Nate Sultemeier 13, Nick Hines 15, Drew Macy 8, Gabe See 6, Austin Burkhalter 13, Alan Erickson 3, Conor Smith 8, Randy Hamm, Leonel Mendoza, Manny Lopez, Alex Bennett, Stefan Griss 2