MORTON — Friday night’s contest against Toutle Lake offered no break from the gauntlet of the Central 2B schedule for the 2B No. 3 Morton-White Pass boys basketball team after suffering its first league loss of the season Wednesday against No. 8 Napavine in heartbreaking fashion.
Going blow-for-blow with the Timberwolves for the majority of the game, the Ducks cracked late, and MWP rose to the occasion in a huge bounceback win against a red-hot foe, 68-60, Friday night in Morton.
Leading by one with minutes to play, star big-man Josh Salguero put down a shot from the key to put the Timberwolves up by three, and drew an offensive foul moments later from Toutle Lake forward Dylan Fraidenburg.
Another few moments later, Judah Kelly knocked in a 3-pointer to give the Timberwolves the space they needed to pull out the key league victory.
That game-changing stretch was made possible by Kelly and Jake Cournyer’s efforts in the third quarter, when the pair finally knocked in some shots to open up the paint, and the MWP offense.
“They threw everything at us,” MWP coach Chad Cramer said. “It was a constant game of adjustments. I thought our guys did a good job of adjusting to everything they did and we outplayed them down the stretch.”
Morton-White Pass trailed by four at the half, hitting just two shots from distance in the first half — and missing plenty — with the Ducks packing the paint to deny Salguero the ball.
The senior big had just five points at the half, and was being denied any sort of chance to take shots with his guards struggling to hit shots and open up the floor.
“They did a good job of corralling Josh,” Cramer said. “Everyone is so physical with him, I think it’s a little unfair how physical teams play him with how physical he’s often allowed to be with the guy he’s guarding. It’s different cause he’s bigger. But he’s learned to fight that physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
Cramer regrouped his quad, taking just a few minutes to talk at halftime before sending his boys out on the court to warm up and see some shots fall before the break ended.
That strategy proved fruitful for MWP, with Cournyer hitting three shots from distance in the third quarter and Kelly adding two more, leaving space for Salguero to get to work when Toutle Lake was forced to stretch its defense.
“Judah Kelly’s played really well the last few games for us,” Cramer said. “Jake hit some shots. We need both those guys to really get going along with our bigs down the stretch.”
Salguero again led the scoring effort for MWP with 17 points, but Kelly added 16 and Cournyer 13 in another well-rounded scoring night. Jace Peters also scored 12 points, and Carter Dantinne hauled in some massive offensive rebounds when the T-Wolves needed extra possessions.
All the while the MWP defense kept them in the game after allowing 21 first quarter points, holding Toutle Lake’s Zach Swanson to 24 points.
Swanson broke Toutle Lake’s all-time program scoring record Friday night, but each bucket was hard-earned.
Connor Cox added 22 points, making some tough contested jumpers against a stout MWP defense.
“That’s a team — whatever bracket we’re in — I hope we’re in the other one,” Cramer said. “That's a veteran team that knows how to win. We rode that wave late and did a good job of holding Zach down. No one can quiet a crowd like Zach can, he can really shut them up. We did a good job, we made it hard for him to get 24.”
The Timberwolves take on Willapa Valley in Randle next on Monday.