CATHLAMET - Naselle went on a 25-point scoring binge in the final period to run past Wahkiakum 57-55 in the annual Battle of K-M Mountain there Saturday in a non-league encounter. The Comets were down 39-32 going into the final period, but as they have done all season, Naselle owned the fourth quarter.
"We switched in and out of a half-court trapping defense to pick up the tempo to more our pace and we were able to create several turnovers that led to some easy baskets," Coach Brian Macy explained. "Up until the final period this was an ugly game for us. We shot poorly from the field (19-69 for 28 percent) and made only two three-point shots in a dozen attempts, but luckily we did rebound well."
Naselle out-rebounded Wahkiakum 55-44 during the contest, thanks in large part to Conor Smith's season-high 18 caroms and Austin Burkhalter's 14 boards. Smith added 14 points and Burkhalter knocked down 13 as both recorded double-doubles against the rival Mules. Nate Sultemeier also reached double figures in scoring for Naselle with 13 and dished out four assists and garnered four steals. Wahkiakum lost the services of Tyson Bain before the game (ill) and Blake Anderson (ankle) and John Chambers (mouth injury) during the fray and was somewhat short-handed on the glass.
The Mules shot 17-57 from the floor for a miserable 30 percent, but did make six from beyond the arc. The Comets were 15-21 from the charity stripe for 71 percent accuracy. Naselle scored 39 points in the second half to only 18 the first 16 minutes of the battle.
"We started slowly, were walking the ball up the court in the first half, and missed layins, jump shots, three's, you name it and most of our shots were good looks," lamented Macy. "It seems we do what we have to do to win, but not much more. When push comes to shove we can play some pretty good basketball, but I wish we didn't have to have our backs against the wall every night to do it."
A series of three steals by Naselle in the crucial fourth period run that put the Comets on top resulted in seven points and they were never headed down the stretch as they connected on nine of 10 foul shots. Nick Hines added nine points and Drew Macy six and the duo played well defensively on the Mules' guards. Alan Erickson scored two points off the bench for the Comets. Chase Fritzie potted 14 points for the Mules, Troy Howard grabbed 11 rebounds and Brad Pugh dished out five assists.
Wahkiakum falls to 2-4 on the season, while Naselle is a sparkling 8-1 and atop the Pacific League with a 3-0 mark. "We had three tough games this week and managed to win all three and we had one postponed," Macy said. The Valley game at Naselle will be played Feb. 4 after twice being postponed. The Mules contest was originally set for Dec. 2, but moved due to the Comets' success in the state football playoffs.
Naselle 8 10 14 25 -57
Wahkiakum 6 15 18 16 -55
Wahkiakum-- Brad Pugh 6, Blake Anderson, Chase Fritzie 14, Cody Olsen 28, Troy Howard 6, Justin McClain, Joel Niccolazzi 1, John Chambers
Naselle-Ollie Baker, Nate Sultemeier 13, Nick Hines 9, Drew Macy 6, Gabe See, Austin Burkhalter 13, Alan Erickson 2, Conor Smith 14, Randy Hamm