Young Montesano to be tested against Lakeside in state Round of 12 matchup

Feb. 27—While it might not be the case for a program that has made four straight trips to the 1A State Tournament's culminating event at the Yakima Valley SunDome, much of the current iteration of the Montesano Bulldogs will experience it for the first time.

How well the Bulldogs handle the bright lights could be a key factor when No. 11 Montesano takes on No. 6 Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) in a state Round of 12 game at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

"When you get over to the Dome, it's a bigger court and atmosphere," said Mark Mansfield ahead of his fourth-consecutive trip to Yakima as coach of the Bulldogs. "We talked (on Monday) a lot about that we're going to be nervous, but we have to take it like it's just another game, but enjoy it, enjoy everything that's there. But when we get on the court, do our best to just focus on playing basketball."

Monte (16-9 overall) has just one senior on the roster in Liz York, who has been unavailable to play this season after a knee injury over the summer, and features just one returning starter with significant state-level experience in sophomore forward Jillie Dalan on a roster that has seven sophomores and three freshman.

The Eagles (19-5) feature seven seniors on a roster heavy with upperclassmen, but when they step onto the court on Wednesday, it will be the first time for the current crop of Lakeside players at the Dome.

The Eagles are coming off a 59-51 loss to state runner-up and No. 3 seed Lynden Christian after holding a lead at halftime in a state first-round game on Saturday.

A quick, aggressive team that can light it up from the perimeter, Lakeside had three players finish in double figures against the Lyncs in seniors Ayanna Tobeck (12 points), Avery Haff (11 pts.) and Rylee Darnold (10 pts.).

Of Lakeside's five losses this season, three came against unbeaten No. 2 seed Deer Park and the Eagles have scored less than 40 points in a game just four times this season.

Lakeside's press-and-transition style of play poses some problems for a Montesano team that at times has struggled to find offense and take care of the ball this season.

"Big challenges. They're very quick and aggressive. I'm sure they will pressure us all over the place and they have 3-4 girls that can shoot it," Mansfield said. "They're just very solid and they utilize their quickness and will attack you with their defense to get some easy buckets."

With just a few short days of practice after Saturday's win over Cascade Christian, the Bulldogs aren't going to reinvent the wheel, rather they will try to accentuate what they do best in hopes of pulling off an upset.

"We've got to go with what we've done all season," Mansfield said. "With two days to get ready for them, we're not changing a lot of stuff. We'll do some things that, hopefully with what we've watched, we can take advantage of."

For Monte, that means defense and using its variety of pressing, trapping and half-court zone defenses to make the going difficult for Lakeside's offense, similar to what the Eagles are hoping to do to the Bulldogs.

Monte also needs to keep the Eagles to one-and-done offensive possessions to be successful, according to Mansfield.

"We've got to continue to play really good defense and limit their good looks at the basket from the perimeter," he said. "The other thing is that we have to rebound. When we've ran into trouble is when we get out on a shooter, but we don't rebound and give them 2-3 offensive chances and start chasing them around. ... We've got to play defense like we have been, rebound and take care of the ball."

Monte should also be familiar with the caliber of play a No. 6 state seed brings as the Bulldogs' brutal non-league schedule was built to help prepare them for the state tournament.

If Monte can limit the turnovers and get contributions from the likes of sophomore forward Lex Stanfield and company in addition to Dalan, an upset is very possible if Monte's defense holds court as expected.