Skyhawks finish with 18 assists, 10 threes for Metro win

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge senior point guard AJ Monterossi scored nine points in the first quarter and 14 overall for the Skyhawks in their 65-46 win over Aloha. AJ Monterossi thought Southridge needed to come out with a flurry of activity, and throw the first punch at an over .500 Aloha team that recently grabbed the Skyhawks' attention with a win over Beaverton.

Ten field goals, seven of them assisted. Twenty-four points. Eight takeaways. Four three-pointers and 12 points in the paint. And that was just in the first quarter.

The Skyhawks satisfied their senior leader's demand with a staggering eight-minute stint of scalding offensive execution and sizzling shooting, jumping out to 16-0 lead and extending it to 24-5.

By the time the wounded Warriors were able to reach for the smelling salts, the Skyhawks had stormed out to a 36-20 halftime advantage, and in time sailed to a 65-46 triumph.

“When you jump on them from the start, they just kind of back down,” said Monterossi. “They're a good, physical team. But, with a 16-0 start, you knock them in the face, and they're like, 'Whoa.' It definitely changed their mindset about things.”

“That slow start just killed us,” said Aloha guard Edger Guerra. “It's hard to come back from 15, 16 down. It's hard to keep everybody motivated and playing hard at a high rate when we're down by that much.”

Southridge head coach Phil Vesel couldn't have drawn up a much stronger start than what his squad scripted in the game's opening minutes. Southridge made six of its first seven shots. Monterossi scored nine in the first quarter on an assortment of hard drives to the paint and pull-up jumpers from midrange. It was Southridge's unselfishness, however, that piqued the captain's attention.

At the end of the first, Southridge had five assists on five straight hoops with Hudson VanAllen, Aly El-Mansy and Alex Beekman burying jumpers with marksman-like efficiency off drive-and-kicks from their teammates.

“In practice, passing just comes naturally. And in the games, it carries over,” said VanAllen, who finished with six points. “We trust everybody on our team. We can all shoot the ball."

Defensively, Monterossi, Griff Christiansen, Isaiah Reel and Parker Gaddis set the tone, actively attacking the Warriors with an extended 2-3 zone that got out on shooters and closed off Aloha post Steven Boswell from catching the rock on the blocks. Aloha senior point guard Jay Garmondeh's lay-up off Guerra's bounce pass was the Warriors' first field goal with 2:20 to go in the first quarter.

“They couldn't score, and we really fed off that,” said sophomore wing Michael Seng. “We put it on our offense, and once (Aloha) couldn't score, they couldn't really play defense on us. They didn't want to play anymore. We just broke them down with defense.”

“Our defense gives us open shots on offense,” added VanAllen. “Our offense comes off our defense.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge sophomore wing Michael Seng brings the ball into the open floor in the second quarter of the Skyhawks win over Aloha.

Rainmaking threes

The Skyhawks cooled down somewhat in the second quarter, which let Aloha hang around thanks to the accurate outside shooting of Terrell Gayhart and the flashy passing of Guerra. Guerra had three assists in the second quarter, two of which were of the hot-potato, no-look variety. Gayhart ripped two rainmaking threes that stemmed Southridge's resurgence somewhat. The only problem was Southridge's defense was so stout — only allowing two field goals in the first quarter — that the Warriors found themselves looking up at a huge hole to ascend out of.

“We had no energy at the start,” said Gayhart. “We just have to have our heads in it once the game starts. It has a lot to do with how we practice. That takes a toll on what we do in the games. We have to work harder in practice. That'll help a lot.”

“We just need to stay focused at the beginning of the game,” added Garmondeh. “We can't come in slacking off, because in the Metro League, nothing is going to come easy for us. We have to stay focused the entire game, trust in each other and have confidence.”

The Skyhawks' shuttling of the basketball and desire to give it up when better looks were available became contagious as the game carried on into the second half. Gaddis hit a three following a drive-and-jump pass from El-Mansy to start the third quarter. Then, 6-foot-8 post Christiansen took a pick-and-pop pass from Monterossi and drilled a top-of-the-key three to go up 42-22.

“Everyone was finally ready to knock down shots,” said Monterossi. “Toward the beginning of the year, we were kind of hesitant. But, everyone knows we can shoot the ball. When we shoot with confidence, make the extra pass and knock them down, there's not much anybody can do.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge post Griff Christiansen scored 11 points including two three pointers during the Skyhawks 65-46 rout of Aloha on Wednesday.

Twisting lay-up

Seng scored five points in the third, including a twisting lay-up after a Grant Giraldi steal and seeing eye-bounce pass that gave Southridge a 51-32 lead going into the fourth. Continuing its democratic doling of the basketball, Southridge had an altruistic six assists on six field goals coming out of the locker room in the third quarter.

“Coach says it's about we, not me,” said Seng. “We said that before the game. That's how we really feed off each other. We know what each of us can do. We play to that advantage.”

Once the Warriors took a step back and started to let the game come to them in the second half, Guerra began making plays again from his guard spot. Garmondeh broke Southridge's press by getting the ball in the middle of the floor, and Gayhart and Boswell were able to get going offensively.

“That momentum shifted for a little bit,” said Guerra. “We started playing well for stretches, but it has to be more than that. We're not going to win playing for stretches at a time. We have to play consistent, at a high level, at all times. Right off the bat we have to be on our 'A' game. We don't have the luxury of having an off night. We have to play well every night.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior guard Nick Christophersen drives to the basket against Southridge's Isaiah Reel.

In the third, Boswell began to assert himself on the offensive board and came up with 10 points and five boards.

Boswell led the Warriors with 18 points. Gayhart had 12, Nate Christophersen had seven, and Guerra garnered five.

“We can't come out scared,” added Garmondeh. “If we come out scared, they're going to smell the fear and go after us. In the first quarter, we had no offensive execution. But, in the quarters after that, we were all focused and slowed down the game. We were ready to play.”

Southridge's outside shooting and selfless passing sustained the already substantial advantage in the fourth. VanAllen, Seng, Christiansen, and Reel each hit threes off, you guessed it, ball reversals or kicks from Giraldi, Beekman and Luke Vincent. Vincent's pass to VanAllen netted Southridge's eighth three-ball of the night.

In all, Southridge finished with 18 assists as a team, an eye-popping number considering in high school basketball dimes are given only on passes that lead directly to a hoop. Monterossi finished with a team-high 14 points. Christiansen added 11.

“You just have to pick your spots,” noted Monterossi. “I know when I can attack and score. I know when Griff (Christiansen) has a mismatch. You just have to analyze it and see where we're going and feed the hot hand. If someone's knocking down shots, we'll run a play for them.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior post Kyle Boswell led the Warriors with 18 points against Southridge on Wednesday.

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