Boys Basketball: Apperson’s Aim Helps to Repel T-Wolves Attack

Images from a Central 2B League boys basketball game between Adna and Morton-White Pass at Adna High School on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019.

Long Range Capabilities: Adna Drains a Dozen 3-Pointers to Down Morton-White Pass

By Jordan Nailon
jnailon@chronline.com

ADNA — Both teams came out ready to strike from long distance here Thursday night but the Pirates proved to have more precise aim as they prevailed over Morton-White Pass 60-48 in a Central 2B League boys basketball matchup.

Adna connected on half of their 24 3-point shots, including a 7 of 10 effort from behind the arc from senior point guard Austen Apperson who notched a game-high 23 points.

Apperson said he knew he had a hot hand early in the game after connecting on two of his first three shots. The feeling isn’t new to Apperson as he’s been shooting just under 75 percent from downtown over his last three games. That acquired confidence came in handy with 2.5 seconds left in the third quarter after a pair of Kaleb Rashoff free throws pulled Morton-White Pass within five points.

After receiving a long inbound pass near half court Apperson was supposed to make another pass to the corner but he determined that time was running short. Instead of letting time expire during the extra pass Apperson decided to take his chances and let it fly.

“I just kind of stepped into one and shot it and it felt pretty good coming off the hand,” he noted of his buzzer-beater attempt that ripped clean through the net to give his team a 47-39 lead heading into the final quarter.

Apperson then opened up the fourth quarter with a dagger three pointer in his defender’s eye that set the tone for the rest of a runaway frame. That decisive quarter saw the Pirates outpace MWP 16-4 before a last second banked-three by the T-Wolves changed the score but not the outcome.

Morton-White Pass coach Chad Cramer said he felt his team was in the ballgame right up until Apperson transitioned from simply heating up to for real on fire. His team even managed to snag a pair of brief one point leads early in third quarter after trailing by as many as six points in the second frame.

“I thought we had a little bit of trouble with their defense there in the second half and then Austen got cooking,” noted Cramer. “We knew he could shoot. He hit a half courter. If he got to shoot the ball from behind the arc it went in for him tonight. He had what I would guess is a career night from behind the arc and he’s a great kid so I’m happy for him. I just wish it would have happened to a different team.”

As for MWP, they hit 6 of their 17 long range tries and made 18 of 47 total field goal attempts. They also managed to beat Adna on the glass with a 34 to 26 advantage in rebounds. Dylan Richards led the T-Wolves with 11 points and nine rebounds. Rashoff and Hayden Young added eight points each.

“I thought my guys battled. I thought we executed our stuff. We handled their press pretty well and that was kind of a high point for us. I know they can really turn you over in the press and I thought we did a great job of handling it to where we didn’t really face it in the second half at all,” added Cramer.

After dropping 19 points on Willapa Valley and 25 points on Naselle last weekend, Apperson appears to be coming into his own on the court for Adna.

“We’ve been talking with other kids about how we’ve got to get him opportunities for threes because, people don’t know it, but he’s one of the best 3-point shooters in the league,” said Adna coach Luke Salme. “You can tell him, ‘Look, you can seek that out and no three is a bad three for you.’ When that light bulb goes off for him then it gets kind of contagious. That’s kind of what’s kept us out of scoring 60 points is that we’re not scoring from the 3-point line where as last year that’s where we would get the bulk of them.”

Indeed, the three point bug spread like public school influenza on the Pirates bench for at least one night on Thursday. Lyle Metzenberg, Braden Thomas and Cole Fay also connected on shots from beyond the arc for Adna as they fought to keep the relentless T-Wolves at bay.

The Pirates hit 22 of 49 shots from the field for the game with Metzenberg adding 12 points, Fay dropping in nine points and Thomas adding seven. Metzenberg also led Adna on the boards with nine rebounds.

Apperson noted that his team boasts a deep and diverse bench, and each player seems to be adjusting to their specific assignments.

“Coach was just talking about that exact thing and everyone is kind of comfortable in their role and they know that when they get their opportunity when they’re in, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes, they’re just flying around on defense and bringing energy off the bench. So everyone has bought in and it’s been great,” said Apperson.

Salme also made note that while he was happy to secure the league victory on Pirates’ home court he won’t be underestimating the T-Wolves any time soon.

“They defend like the college game with arm bars and you can never cut where you want and every screen is going to be met. I mean, they kind of play football on defense,” Salme said. “People know about Rashoff and don’t really know about those other kids but they still defend like MWP always has. They are the toughest defense, other than Toledo, that we’ve seen.”

Adna (6-1, 3-0 league) will host Concordia Christian Academy at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Morton-White Pass (7-4, 1-2 league) will host Toledo next Wednesday.

At Adna

PIRATES 60, TIMBERWOLVES 48

Morton-WP 12 15 12 7 —48

Adna 12 17 18 16 —60

Morton-White Pass (48) — Rashoff 8, Martinez 2, Collette 3, Richards 11, Young 8, Dotson 2, G. Higdon 4, Tejelde 8, M. Higdon 2

FG: 18 of 47 —.382 FT: 4 of 7 —.571 Reb: 34 (Richards 9)

Adna (60) — Apperson 23, Thomas 7, Metzenberg 12, Minkoff 3, Scheuber 4, Ingle 2, Fay 9

FG: 22 of 49 —.448 FT: 4 of 9 —.444 Reb: 26 (Metzenberg 9)

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