Key blocks save Oakville in dramatic win over Pe Ell


PE ELL — Marcus Whittaker’s message to his team with nine seconds left on the clock was simple. It didn’t have to be complicated:

“If you get beat on defense, it could be ballgame.”

The Oakville boys basketball team had just had one game-saving defensive play, up by a point, when Pe Ell forced a turnover and got the ball up to Calan McCarty, who looked like he had an easy transition layup to go ahead, only for Daniel Rodas to come in for a chase-down block out of nowhere.

But that had just put the ball out of bounds and given Pe Ell another chance to win at the buzzer.

“I told them to be aggressive,” Whittaker said. “If the ball’s in the air, go for it aggressively.”

Pe Ell got the ball into the key, and Gio Rodas went up aggressively, logging Oakville’s eighth block of the night and taking the ball coast-to-coast, hitting a layup at the buzzer to seal a dramatic 45-42 win for the Acorns.

“I’m glad they picked it up on that last possession, because it was nerve-wracking,” Whittaker said.

The Acorns (4-2) led for the first two and a half quarters, going up by 10 with four minutes left in the third thanks in large part to a defensive effort that forced 14 turnovers in the opening half.

But something changed then. Suddenly, Oakville was the one giving the ball away and Pe Ell was the one taking advantage, and when Carter Phelps hit a 30-foot buzzerbeater at the end of the quarter, it tied things up at 35-35.

“That’s our achilles heel, when we get comfortable,” Whittaker said. “Once we get comfortable, that’s when those turnovers start slowly (coming). Then once the turnovers happen, our body language, we start getting down on ourselves. “

The Trojans (3-3, 3-1 1B CVL) even took a lead just over two minutes into the final period on a Silas Edgar bucket in the post to make it 39-38, but the Acorns came back with buckets by Daniel Rodas and Eddie Klatush to retake a lead at 42-39 with 3:00 to go.

That would be the last field goal the guests would score until Gio Rodas’ icer at the buzzer. Pe Ell came back to tie the game with 1:50 left, before Courtney Price got to the line and hit a free throw to give Oakville the slimmest of leads.

Price led the way early with three buckets in the post in the first quarter. But after that, the Trojans threw extra arms and bodies at him all night long, and held him without a field goal; he finished with eight points.

But the senior made an impact in other ways, logging 11 rebounds to lead the Acorns on the glass, and swatting away five blocks.

“He’s had a lot of patience,” Whittaker said. “He’s showing his leadership skills.”

Daniel Rodas led Oakville with 13 points, and was the only player on the court to finish in double figures.

On the other bench, Pe Ell put out a balanced scoreline, with eight different Trojans getting into the book. Blake Howard led the way with eight points, while Carter Phelps had seven and Calan McCarty and Edgar both added six.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the kids tonight for the way they came back, in the nature that they did, to be in that position to have that last-second shot, heroic at home,” Pe Ell coach Chris Phelps said. “It’s good to be in positions like this. We learn a lot from this and we grow a lot from this. “

Oakville is set to face Sound Christian on the road Friday. Pe Ell will be off through the new year, resuming 1B Columbia Valley League play at Mossyrock on Jan. 3.