NASELLE – Kolby Glenn’s contested 25-foot pull-up at the halftime buzzer gave Naselle a 30-29 halftime lead, but 26 turnovers proved too much for the Comets to overcome in Knappa’s 73-62 victory Thursday, Jan. 17.
Glenn’s five first-half three-pointers kept Naselle in the game despite already having 16 turnovers by halftime against Knappa’s devastating press. But the high-flying 6’4” Eli Takalo had 15 of his 22 points in the second half, including two slam dunks, helping the Loggers to a 44-point second half.
Takalo stood out, but Knappa brought a team full of long-armed, athletic players and leveraged that strength with a three-quarter court press that consistently pushed Naselle to the sidelines, slowed their action and forced them to telegraph their passes.
“They were long-(armed), and we haven’t really seen a lot of presses this year. We did not have our press-break going,” Glenn said.
The Comets battled through their turnovers to stay in the game. After one turnover, Jimmy Strange had a chase-down block of Timber Engblom to prevent a fast-break layup.
Thanks to Glenn’s incredible shooting, Naselle was extremely efficient on those possessions when it did manage to get into its offense. He shot six of eight for 17 points in the half, including his five threes. Early on, Glenn hit a tough baseline floater, and, on Naselle’s next possession, buried a quick catch-and-shoot three just as Naselle crossed half-court. That started the Comets on a 12-2 run for a 16-10 lead after a quarter. Glenn’s three in transition off a Knappa miss stretched it to 19-12 early in the second.
Knappa followed with an 11-2 run. Engblom, recovering from a slow start, began to dominate near the basket, putting up 11 second-quarter points. But near the end of the half Ian Fontanilla stole Engblom’s pass, setting up a three by Corey Gregory. Glenn’s buzzer-beater put Naselle back in front at halftime at 30-29.
The Comets took better care of the ball in the second half, committing 10 turnovers after halftime compared to 16 before. Corey Gregory’s three-pointer on a press-break put Naselle up 35-33. But Knappa finally went ahead for good midway through the third when Kanai Philips slashed to the basket and scored for a 39-37 lead. Takalo followed with a dunk off a Comet turnover. Joe Ramvek closed out to block a corner three by Glenn, leading to a Takalo layup. Two more Takalo layups off turnovers in the back-court suddenly made it a 10-point game.
Knappa also had its half-court offense going in the second half, in which Engblom, Philips and Takalo each scored in double figures, with most of their points coming in the paint.
Glenn buried a deep three with 4:14 left, giving him 20 points, but that only cut the lead to 14.
Near the end of the game, Naselle scored nine points in a span of a minute, using tough cross-court passes to set up a pair of three-pointers and getting a three-point play from Ethan Lindstrom. But that still left them trailing by ten with under 30 seconds to go.
Engblom led Knappa with 23 points, Takalo had 22 and Philips had 10. For Naselle, Glenn shot seven of ten, including six three-pointers, for his 20 points. Lindstrom and Antonio Nolan each scored 11 points, and Gregory added 10.