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Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — Olympic guard Chesa Hayes caught an inbound pass at midcourt with six seconds left in the game and had a wide-open path to the hoop.
Sprinting Port Townsend players were unable to catch up in time to disrupt Hayes’ layup, which bounced through the hoop right as the buzzer sounded.
And with that, the Trojans beat the Redskins 52-50 on Wednesday night and dealt Port Townsend another oh-so-close Olympic League defeat.
“That’s the fifth one,” Port Townsend coach Randy Maag said after the game.
Of the Redskins’ six league losses, five have been by four points or less, with four by two points or less.
Hayes’ game-winner spoiled a scrappy Redskins comeback from eight points down, 49-41, with 1:20 remaining.
Jewel Johnson, who finished with a game-high 26 points, cut a chunk out of the deficit with a 3-pointer that came after Gabby Hossack’s offensive rebound to make it 46-41.
Both teams then had a series of 1-for-2 trips to the free-throw line (four by the Redskins, one by the Trojans) before Port Townsend’s Codi Hallinan sank 2 of 2 to tie the game at 50 with six seconds left, and set up the winning play.
“Tonight, I’m proud of their effort,” Maag said of his team.
“They played their [hearts out]. They didn’t give up.”
Port Townsend was in comeback mode for most of the last three quarters of the game.
After ending the first quarter on a 10-0 run that gave them a 16-10 lead, the Redskins were held scoreless for most of the second period.
Their only points were three free throws late in the quarter, and Olympic led 26-19 at halftime.
On a few occasions in the second half, Port Townsend decreased the deficit to two or three points, but the Trojans would respond with a basket or two, usually by Ashli Payne or Olivia Williams, to create a cushion.
Payne and Williams combined to score 44 of Olympic’s 52 points.
To slow Payne, the Redskins employed a rotation of Patricia Reeves, Enani Rubio, Anne Meek and Rilke Rutenbeck on defense.
They did their job as Payne seemed irritated by their efforts throughout the game, but she did score some of the game’s most important points in the final period.
“We wanted to try and deny her the ball as much as possible, and make her work,” Maag said.
“She’s a great player. If she isn’t the Olympic League player of the year, she’s definitely up there.”
Payne finished with 25 points.
Although they fell short again, Maag still has high hopes for the Redskins.
“We’re coming off a couple of bad losses,” Maag said, referencing setbacks to Port Angeles and Kingston last week, “but I think we’re in a good place right now.
“I think we’re stronger after this game.”
Port Townsend, a 1A school competing in the 2A Olympic League, still doesn’t know its exact path to the postseason — Maag said the current plan of them needing to place seventh in the league is under appeal — and Maag said his team isn’t focused on it.
“We don’t even talk to the girls about that,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep getting better.”
Along with her 26 points, Johnson also had seven assists, five steals and five rebounds.
Hallinan finished with 13 points, five blocks and seven rebounds.
The Redskins received a boost from the return of emotional leader Irina Lyons, who missed the previous two games with a hip injury. Lyons scored five points.
“She’ll get her legs back under her,” Maag said. “She’s only had probably one-and-a-half practices [since returning].”
Port Townsend 50
Olympic 10 16 13 13— 52
Port Townsend 16 3 15 16— 50
Hayes 6, Williams 19, Payne 25 Anderson 1.
Port Townsend (50)
Johnson 26, Rutenbeck 3, Lyons 5, Hossack 3, Hallinan 13.