Montesano punches ticket to Yakima with first-round win over Cascade Christian

Feb. 26—Led once again by a lock down defensive effort, Montesano earned its fourth-straight trip to Yakima with a 41-25 win over Cascade Christian in a 1A State Tournament first-round game on Saturday at Tumwater High School.

The Bulldogs (16-9 overall) held the Cougars (16-8) to less than 20 points through the first three quarters of the game. Cascade Christian's 25 points was its third-lowest offensive output this season as Monte's swarming, in-your-face-and-personal-space defense wreaked havoc on Cougars shooters.

"We flew around a lot," said Monte sophomore forward Lex Stanfield, often the tip of the spear of the Bulldogs full and half-court press and zone offenses. "Our tops went down to the sides a lot and helped down there. We just moved around a lot, really fast."

Monte held as much as a seven-point lead at 15-8 in the first quarter after a jump shot by Bulldogs sophomore Regan Wintrip with a half-minute left in the first quarter.

Monte leading scorer and 1A Evergreen League MVP Jillie Dalan hit a shot from the high post with six ticks on the clock to put the Bulldogs up 17-10 after one frame.

Dalan scored on an offensive rebound and followed with a pair of free throws to give Monte its first double-digit lead at 21-10 with less than a minute elapsed in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs would extend the lead to 28-14 by halftime on a steal and layup by Monte guard Lex Stanfield followed by a bucket in the paint by sophomore Josie Forster off a well-placed bounce pass from junior Hazel Jones with five seconds left in the first half.

Monte freshman point guard Tieander Olson gave the Bulldogs their largest lead of the game at 16 with a pair of free throws at 5:45 of the third quarter, staking Monte to a 30-14 lead.

The Cougars would cut the lead to 10 points at 33-23 on a pair of free throws by freshman guard Liesl Nordling with 5:36 to play in the game.

But Monte's defense would hold Cascade Christian to just two point on one field goal the rest of the way, preserving the 41-25 victory and sending the Bulldogs to the Round of 12.

"We did a really good job of not giving them open looks the entire game," Monte head coach Mark Mansfield said. "We never let them get going on a run. They are a good team that plays hard and can make shots. ... I thought our girls did a really nice job of flying around, getting hands up and making it difficult for them."

Monte's defense held the Cougars to 25% shooting on 9 of 36 from the field and forced 25 turnovers, including eight in the first quarter.

On offense, the Bulldogs had 20 more shot attempts than the cougars, hitting 16 of 56 from the floor (29%), and outrebounded the Cougars 40-21, including a huge 23-8 advantage on the offensive glass.

Dalan, who was shadowed by no less than two Cougars defenders for the majority of the game, led Monte with 11 points and 14 rebounds, nine on the offensive boards.

With Cascade Christian's attention on Dalan, Monte needed, and received, offensive contributions from players up and down its lineup.

Stanfield (9 points, 7 rebounds), Olson (7 pts., 9 reb., 7 steals), Forster (4 pts., ast.) and junior forward Ava Schrader (4 pts., 7 reb.) each hit multiple shots from the field while Ali Parkin and Regan Wintrip each came off the bench to hit shots from the floor.

"We talked about it all season that teams are going to focus on Jillie," Mansfield said. "All these girls are capable, but I think our youth shows sometimes in that they are afraid to miss, but if they are open, they have to take the shot. Regan today hit a shot. Ali came in and hit a shot and those are huge. ... Those are big buckets when we can get those other girls to get a bucket or two, teams are going to then have to defend them a bit."

"We had to step up because they were doubling Jillie and we didn't have any spots to go anywhere else," Stanfield said. "So we just had to start shooting."

With the win, Montesano earned a spot in the state Round of 12 and will make a fourth-consecutive trip to the Yakima Valley SunDome.

"It feels really good, especially because we are so young," Stanfield said. "This was our goal, to go to the dome this year, and we made it."

"It really says a lot about the character of these girls and how hard they had to work," Mansfield said of the accomplishment. "Back in November, it seemed like we had so much to do (Yakima) kind of seemed out of sight. They took some lumps early in the year. They didn't let it get them down and they just kept working. ... They have a lot of fun, they work had and play together. I couldn't be prouder."

The No. 11 Bulldogs will take on No. 6 Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) in a loser-out game at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday in Yakima.

Cascade Christian 10 4 5 6 — 25

Montesano 17 11 5 8 — 41

Scoring: Cascade Christian — Nordling 7, Whittington 6, Pearson 4, Scott 4, Looker 2, Linkem 2.

Montesano — Dalan 11, Stanfield 9, Olson 7, Schlueter 5, Forster 4, Parkin 3, Wintrip 2.