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Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — A whole lot of unknowns faced off when Port Angeles and Forks met at Port Angeles High School on Wednesday night.
Forks won the battle of new head coaches and mostly new rosters playing their first games of the season, 57-44.
“We won because we we’re a better open-gym team than them,” Forks coach Rick Gooding said after the game.
“It’s the first game of the season, and it was basically an open-gym game.
“But you never like to lose, and it’s always nice to beat [other] teams on the Peninsula.”
Reigning SWL-Evergreen Division MVP and All-Peninsula co-MVP Braden Decker led the Spartans with 20 points, including a 3-pointer that stretched the Forks lead to 47-39 midway through the fourth quarter.
Decker also grabbed nine rebounds, dished out four assists and recorded five steals. He went to the free-throw line 14 times, making nine.
“You know what, you kind of expect the MVP to play well,” Gooding said.
“So, that wasn’t a big shocker.”
Decker’s 3-pointer followed a 3 by teammate Colton Raben after Port Angeles had cut the lead down to 41-39 on a Miki Andrus lay-in.
Those 3-pointers were two of the biggest shots in a big quarter for the Spartans.
Forks started the final period with a 35-34 lead after scoring only six points in the third quarter.
In the fourth, the Spartans outscored the Roughriders 22-10, including a 10-0 run in the latter half of the quarter.
“We picked the right quarter to play our biggest quarter,” Gooding said.
As a team, Forks did well on the boards.
Along with Decker’s nine rebounds, Mark Jacobson grabbed 15 and Leo Gonzales had eight.
Gooding also singled out the play of reserve guard Kenneth Abrahams, who spent a lot of time on the court due to foul trouble by some Forks players.
“He came off the bench and gave us huge minutes,” Gooding said.
Port Angeles was led by junior guard Hayden Gunderson, who finished with 20 points and made four 3-pointers. He also grabbed eight rebounds.
“He’s everything you want in a point guard,” Port Angeles coach Brent Stephens said.
The Riders also got 12 points and six boards from senior Marshall Elliott.
As could be expected after just one game, both coaches saw room for growth from their teams.
Gooding is in his first year as the varsity coach, but he has been around the Forks basketball program for the last five years as a JV and C-Team coach.
His focus after the game was on sprucing things up.
“We were definitely sloppy,” Gooding said.
“We’re a skilled team, now we just need to work on details. You know, the blocking out, communicating.
“The things that aren’t necessarily athletic. The grind-it-out things, the things that are going to win you games.”
Only Decker has extensive varsity experience for the Spartans, so Gooding was especially pleased with how the Spartans played in the final quarter.
“It’s pretty impressive that in the first varsity game for a lot of these kids they were able to [have such a good fourth quarter],” Gooding said.
“It was a close game and they showed they can step up and finish it off. They showed a lot of will doing that.”
The Riders’ overhaul is more extensive.
Stephens was a late hire, getting the job less than a month before practice started, and he is implementing a new system on a team that returns zero starters and just a few players with varsity experience from the 2011-12 Riders.
That kind of change doesn’t come without growing pains.
“It’s a foreign concept to them,” he said. “It’s like I’m teaching them Chinese.”
Stephens is also getting to know his players.
“Giving everyone the minutes they deserve is tough because I don’t have enough minutes [available],” Stephens said.
Forks 57, Port Angeles 44
Forks 14 15 6 22— 57
Port Angeles 11 12 11 10— 44
Decker 20, Jacobson 10, Harris 10, Raben 6, Abrahams 4, Gilmore 4, Gonzales 3.
Port Angeles (44)
Gunderson 20, Elliott 12, Payton 4, Rosander 3, Trieder 3, Andrus 2.
Arch. Murphy 45, Port Angeles 27
EVERETT — The Roughriders outscored Archbishop Murphy 24-23 in the final three quarters of play but fell behind too much in the first period to catch up in the opening game of the season Wednesday night.
The Wildcats outscored Port Angeles 22-3 in the first quarter.
“We struggled in the first quarter on both the offensive and defensive ends,” Port Angeles coach Michael Poindexter said.
First-game jitters resulted in poor shooting while there was an lack of overall intensity on the defensive side early, Poindexter said.
“After that, we played them even the rest of the way in a pretty physical game,” he said.
“Our seniors — Mariah Frazier, Macy Walker and Shayla Northern — brought a great deal of grittiness and hustle, which helped us compete well with them for three quarters.”
Frazier led the Riders with 10 points while standout post player Beth Carlson, sparked the Wildcats with 17 points.
Madison Pollock added 15 for Archbishop Murphy.
“After the first quarter, we did well as a team in defending Beth Carlson, one of the better post players in the state,” Poindexter said.
The Riders will get their second standout opposing post player in as many games when they open Olympic League action against Olympic tonight.
The game starts at 7 p.m.
Olympic’s Ashli Payne is one of the better post players in league, Poindexter said.
Archbishop Murphy 45,
Port Angeles 27
Port Angeles 3 8 9 7— 27
Arch. Murphy 22 8 8 7— 45
Port Angeles (27)
Mariah Frazier 10, Krista Johnson 6, Shayla Northern 6, Maddy Hinrichs 2, Macy Walker 2, Bailee Jones 1.
Archbishop Murphy (45)
Beth Carlson 17, Madison Pollock 15, Anna Maher 9, Megan Wall 2, Addison Schmidt 2.