CENTRALIA - The Comets out-rebounded Wahkiakum 45-27 and kept their poise in a raucous come-from-behind 65-52 victory in Southwest Washington District Tournament action Saturday in Centralia. The win eliminated the arch rival Mules and affords Naselle the chance to win two more games to achieve their quest for a state tournament bid.
The game was tied four times and the lead changed hands on six occasions through the first three periods, but in the late going Austin Burkhalter took over with five of his 12 rebounds and six of his 23 points coming in the final five minutes of the fray to spark the Comets. Leo Mendoza and Manny Lopez also each dropped in six points and Lopez had five boards in the late going to ice the victory.
A technical foul on Cody Olsen with 4:31 left in the game and one assessed on his father and Coach Billy Olsen 46 seconds later helped Naselle to up a five point lead to a 57-44 bulge. Coach Brian Macy said, "I am proud of the way you guys kept your composure when all the pushing and shoving started. You controlled the boards and you controlled the game. The way you played the second half is the way I'd like you to play the rest of the tournament."
Burkhalter worked for a dozen boards, Lopez pulled down nine caroms and John Nines hustled for six rebounds. Burkhalter rolled in 23 points and Mendoza added 17, while Hines hit three treys for nine and Lopez scored eight in the paint. Alan Erickson scored four and Drew Macy and Devin Thompson each scored a bucket.
Drew Macy humbly said, "I played a crappy game, but we won and that's all that matters." The senior point guard continually beat the Mule press and dished out two assists, while helping Mendoza to defense prolific shooter Olsen to nine field goals in 30 flings at the bucket.