Elma controls own destiny after win over Hoquiam

Jan. 19—With a solid performance of its own and a little bit of help elsewhere, the Elma Eagles are now in control of their own destiny.

Elma pulled away from Hoquiam down the stretch to earn a 60-49 victory on Thursday at Elma High School, and pull into a tie for first place in the 1A Evergreen League in the process.

Elma (10-6 overall, 4-1 1A Evergreen) held onto a slim 17-15 lead after Hoquiam (6-7, 1-3) closed the gap after trailing 8-2 early in the first quarter.

The Eagles stretched their lead out to 31-18 on a three from senior shooting guard Cason Seaberg with just under three minutes left to go in the first half.

Hoquiam got to within 10 as senior Zander Jump closed out the second quarter with a double-entendre jump shot as the Grizzlies trailed 35-26 at the break.

In the third quarter, the Eagles lead remained at 12 points after point guard Traden Carter scored inside on a give-and-go with senior post Carter Studer with 2:33 on the clock.

But Hoquiam made a run, capped by a three from freshman point guard Lincoln Niemi at the end of the period, to trail 43-41 entering the final quarter.

"Just a little bit more fire coming out of the half," Hoquiam head coach Jeff Niemi said of his team's 15-8 third quarter. "I thought we played really hard and were getting a lot of rebounds. ... We came out of the half, played hard and hit some shots."

Hoquiam would tie the game at 47-all on a 3-pointer from senior Chance LaBounty with 5:40 left in the game and then at 49-all on a LaBounty layup a minute later.

Elma responded when Vessey drilled a three that set off an 11-0 Eagles run — including six straight points from Seaberg — to close out the game and secure a key 1A Evergreen League victory.

"We had a couple of turnovers on fast breaks that were just silly. So coaches called a time out and had us slow down," Seaberg said of the run, which included the Eagles scoring on three consecutive set plays. "(Elma head coach Matt Ferrier) had us run three sets and we scored on all of them late in the shot clock, so that was six more points that ran some time off the clock. Then we went down on the defensive end and got stops."

"Kids get anxious. For us to calm down like that and execute three sets in a row, it wins the basketball game," Ferrier said. "Defensively, we amped it back up. We got stops and rebounds, down the stretch we took care of business and took care of possessions."

Seaberg led Elma with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting (53%), including going 3 for 8 from the 3-point line (38%).

Carter added 11 points and a team-high five assists while Studer recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Elma shot 44% on 25-of-57 shooting — 6 of 23 from beyond the arc (26%) — and committed 12 turnovers as a team.

Hoquiam was led by Jump and Niemi with 15 points apiece as the Grizzlies went 19 for 56 from the field (34%) and went 8 of 23 from 3-point range (35%).

Hoquiam had 10 turnovers as a team and 15 personal fouls to 12 for Elma.

"They're great players and you know they are going to go on another run, so you have to go on another run too," Coach Niemi said of Elma. "Same story, you cannot score 49 points and expect to win that many games against good teams, and Elma is a really good team."

Niemi added he felt the refs allowed more physical play, which was a detriment to his team.

"It's really hard to run a dribble-drive offense if you can't get their hands off you. We tried our best to get their hands off us. They were able to stand us up over and over," he said. "The kids battled through that well. All the credit to Elma. They are tough, they play well together and they played really well tonight."

With the victory, Elma moves into a tie for first place with Tenino after the Beavers lost 55-53 in Montesano on Thursday, meaning if the Eagles win its final three league games of the season, they'll be 1A Evergreen League champions.

Elma hosts Raymond at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Hoquiam, which sits in fourth place in the league standings, is scheduled to host Eatonville in a 1A Evergreen matchup at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Hoquiam 15 11 15 8 — 49

Elma 17 18 8 17 — 60

Scoring: Hoquiam — Jump 15, Niemi 15, LaBounty 9, Bozich 8, Butcher 2. Elma — Seaberg 21, Carter 11, Studer 10, Vessey 8, Holmes 6, McGaffey 2, Schneider 2.