Ocosta stayed within striking distance for most of the contest but couldn’t make enough defensive stops down the stretch in a 60-48 loss to Northwest Christian in Lacey on Saturday night.
The Wildcats (7-7, 7-5 Pacific 2B) fell behind in the first quarter but stormed back to take a slim lead in the second quarter.
Ocosta grabbed a 24-23 lead with 4:35 to go before halftime, but the Navigators (11-3, 10-2) ended the quarter on a 9-0 run.
With Ocosta nearly playing even with the Navigators for most of the second half, Wildcats head coach Jason Quinby said that the late-second quarter run was one of the differences in the game.
“We had some defensive breakdowns that I felt allowed the game to get away from us,” he said. “The end of the second quarter, in the last few minutes, wasn’t very good on our part and there was a stretch in the third quarter where we went from down six to down 12. The way that Northwest Christian defends, it’s really tough to try to come back.”
One of the players that Ocosta had a hard time guarding was Nick Tarabochia. Tarabochia got to the paint with regularity and scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Ocosta failed to make any significant cuts into the deficit and found itself down 47-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats used a 3-2 zone for most of the game but switched to a man defense for the first few minutes of the final frame.
The Navigators and Wildcats traded buckets for most of the fourth quarter with Ocosta’s deficit never getting below eight points. The Wildcats then switched to a press looking to force turnovers, but were not able to jump into any passing lanes, which allowed the Navigators to find their way to the hoop for open layups.
The Navigators defense allowed the Wildcats some open looks from beyond the arc, but Ocosta couldn’t hit them with consistency as it tried to mount a comeback in the second half.
Despite shooting only 6-of-25 from 3-point range, Quinby thought his team scoring was close to where it should be and blamed defensive struggles for the loss.
“I told the guys coming in that with the way Northwest Christian defends this was probably going to be a 50-48 type of game. I think if we play defense for four quarters it probably is 50-48,” he said.
Cole Hatton was one of the more consistent scorers on the floor for the Wildcats as he tallied a team-leading 15 points.
The loss puts the Wildcats in fifth place in the 2B Pacific League. The team would have to get at least a fourth seed to host a playoff game at districts and avoid playing in a single-elimination game in the first round of the postseason.
Quinby noted that his team will need to be up to task the next time they face a higher-caliber opponent.
“Northwest Christian is a high-quality team. They beat the last undefeated team in our league and they’re playing with extreme confidence right now. They don’t miss when you make a mistake,” he said. “We’re treating these teams above us in the league standings like it’s a playoff game. We need to run somebody down to get in that top four.”
Ocosta 58, Raymond 48
Ocosta got strong performances from junior Evan Waara to lift the Wildcats over the Seagulls 58-48 on Thursday night in Ocosta.
The Wildcats (7-6, 7-4 Pacific 2B) normally rely on Cole Hatton and Kobe Beck for their offensive production, but Raymond focused much of its defensive energy on the Ocosta duo.
“Raymond had a plan to shut down our top two scorers and they did a good job of disrupting their flow. That left an opening that Evan filled quite well tonight,” Ocosta head coach Jason Quinby said.
With Waara having one of the best games of the season, Raymond (3-10, 3-8) turned to a talented player of its own.
Freshman Tre Seydel scored a game-high 29 points for the Seagulls, hitting jump shots and finishing at the rim on his way to shooting 60 percent from the field.
Ocosta amassed a 31-22 lead by halftime and held off Raymond’s comeback attempt as the Wildcats and Seagulls played evenly for much of the second half.
Raymond head coach Derek Rask said it was a letdown to see his team’s struggles on the road continue.
“This was a disappointing loss for us. We have struggled all season on the road and our road struggles continued tonight,” he said. “I thought we had a difficult time with the pace we try to play at and we couldn’t score the ball effectively.”
Both teams will hit the court again on Saturday. Raymond will play host to Chief Leschi while Ocosta will head up to Lacey to take on Northwest Christian. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. tip-offs.
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Ocosta 48, Northwest Christian 29
A shorthanded Ocosta team didn’t have too much trouble against Northwest Christian, coming away with a 48-29 victory in Lacey on Saturday night.
One of Ocosta’s leading scorers, Kristi Raffelson, was sidelined with a knee injury she sustained in a previous game, allowing Kjirstin Hopfer to step up and lead the team with 14 points.
Kylee Poirier started in Raffelson’s place and scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Ocosta head coach Jason Barnum said he wanted to experiment with some different plays on offense and thought his team had some trouble adjusting to the new offensive sets.
“I think Kylee Poirier had a decent game, but we struggled in the offense a little bit without Kristi Raffelson there,” he said. “They were learning to look to someone else besides her right away and I felt that the girls adjusted well.”
Northwest Christian (1-12, 1-9 Pacific 2B) were led by Mikayla Lanham, who was the only Navigator in double digits with 12 points.
The win moves Ocosta to 10-2 overall, 10-1 in league this season.