Fourth-quarter rally leads Elma to win over Hoquiam

Jan. 3—For the better part of three quarters, the Hoquiam Grizzlies appeared to be on their way to handing the Elma Eagles a loss in the 1A Evergreen League opener.

The Eagles had other ideas.

Bolstered by a fourth-quarter comeback, Elma rallied to defeat Hoquiam 49-47 on Tuesday at Hoquiam Square Garden.

Elma (7-4 overall, 1-0 1A Evergreen) jumped out to an early 8-2 lead on a score inside by senior post Carter Studer off an assist from senior guard Grant Vessey.

Hoquiam (6-4, 0-1) closed the quarter on a 6-1 run, tying the game at 10-10 on a three from sophomore guard Joey Bozich with just under a minute to go in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Hoquiam's active hands on defense kept Elma from getting into an offensive rhythm, and the Grizzlies took advantage.

Hoquiam took an 18-15 lead on two consecutive buckets from senior forward Chance LaBounty and held a 21-17 lead at halftime thanks to a three from freshman point guard Lincoln Niemi.

The Grizzlies carried that late second-quarter momentum into the second half, opening the third quarter with a Chris Bryson three followed by a Zander Jump offensive rebound and bucket for a 26-17 lead.

Elma would trim the deficit to 29-24 on a pull-up jumper by junior guard Traden Carter midway through the period, but the game turned on a technical foul call against the Elma bench after an Eagles player was dropped to the floor on a layup attempt on an apparent foul that was not called.

Niemi hit the two free throws then a big 3-pointer 40 seconds later to put the Grizzlies up 34-24.

With under a minute to go in the third quarter, a pair of Jump free throws put Hoquiam up by 12 at 41-29.

Elma's Cason Seaberg scored on a drive and layup to make it a 41-31 game heading to the final frame.

"(Hoquiam) came out in the second half and had a great third quarter that put us in a humongous hole," Elma head coach Matt Ferrier said. "In the first half, we were just completely tentative. We had a game plan and we didn't stick to the game plan. We weren't attacking off the bounce against their zone and it really hurt us."

"They kept responding to our really bad mistakes," Carter said. "We did terrible against the zone. ... You have to give props to them for hitting shots when we did bad things."

As if on queue, Elma flipped the switch to start the fourth quarter.

The Eagles eventually trimmed the Grizzlies' lead to 44-42 on a drive and layup followed by a 3-pointer from sophomore Isaac McGaffey with 3:35 to go.

Elma tied the game at 44-all on a Carter jump shot with 1:35 on the clock.

Hoquiam regained the lead when Bozich buried an open three from the top of the key with 1:07 to play.

Carter worked his magic once again, driving and scoring on a layup to cut Hoquiam's lead to 47-46 with 47 seconds on the clock.

On the ensuing possession, Jump dribbled to the sideline just across mid-court. Carter and Seaberg then double-teamed Jump, who tried to pass out of it but Seaberg got a hand up to deflect the ball.

Carter jumped on the loose ball and took off toward the Hoquiam hoop. Carter drove in for a layup, drew contact, scored and was fouled to give Elma the lead. His subsequent free-throw conversion put the Eagles up 49-47 with 32.5 remaining in the game.

"I just saw an open lane," said Carter, who was in his first game back after missing a few weeks due to an ankle injury. "I've been playing bad all night, I've been playing bad all season, but I just took my opportunity and I finished."

The Grizzlies had a chance late when Bozich just missed a 3-point attempt from the corner. The ball went out of bounds off an Elma player, giving Hoquiam one last shot with 2.5 seconds to go.

An inbound give-and-go to Niemi was well-defended, as the freshman's one-armed heave toward the rim fell short, securing Elma's comeback victory.

"It was a good win for us. It's the first win in league and a W is a W," said Carter, who added he felt his team is capable of a much-better performance. "I believe our potential is a lot greater than where we are right now. So we just need to continue to get better."

"They kind of put it on their shoulders," Ferrier said of his team's discussion in the huddle ahead of the final quarter. "They were at the sideline, discussing with themselves what they needed to do. It's a senior-laden team that knows exactly what the message is going into the fourth quarter. They knew they could come from 10 down and it was a gutsy, gutsy win."

Hoquiam went 17 for 50 from the field (34%) — 6 of 26 from 3-point range (23%) — while Elma was 19 for 62 (31%), including 3 for 19 from beyond the arc (31%).

The Eagles held a 40-35 rebounding advantage, including 22 offensive rebounds, the majority of those coming in the second half.

"We tried hard and battled, we just couldn't make a shot in the fourth quarter," Hoquiam head coach Jeff Niemi said. "Trapping makes you look really good if (the other team) can't finish, and we couldn't finish tonight."

"(Coach Ferrier) kept it real with us. He told us we were being soft and weren't going through contact," Carter said of the fourth-quarter turnaround. "I think that really set us off in the fourth quarter and gave us some motivation to be better."

Seaberg led Elma with 16 points, 12 of those in the second half, while Carter had 12 points, including the final seven points for the Eagles in the fourth quarter.

Studer finished with nine points while McGaffey scored seven and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds for the Eagles.

Niemi had 16 points while LaBounty recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies.

Hoquiam faces Tenino in league action at 7 p.m. Thursday at Tenino High School.

Elma has a non-league matchup against Napavine at 2 p.m. Saturday in Napavine.

Elma 10 7 14 18 — 49

Hoquiam 10 11 20 6 — 47

Scoring: Elma — Seaberg 16, Carter 12, Studer 9, McGaffey 7, Vessey 2, Flores 2, Holmes 1. Hoquiam — Niemi 16, LaBounty 10, Bozich 9, Jump 7, Butcher 4, Bryson 3.