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Peninsula Daily News
SEQUIM — Port Townsend’s Codi Hallinan and Jewel Johnson focused on what they could control this season.
The Redskins closed out the regular season Thursday night with a 34-30 road win over Sequim.
The loss ended the Wolves’ late-season playoff push, but for Port Townsend the game had no playoff implications because they wrapped up their place in the postseason last week.
Last year, a controversial decision denied the Redskins a shot at the 1A tri-district tournament.
As a 1A school playing in the 2A Olympic League, Port Townsend needed to finish in fifth place last season to earn a play-in game.
Going for wins
The Redskins ended the 2011-2012 regular tied for fifth, but since the team they were tied with Klahowya won the season series, it was decided the Redskins weren’t a true fifth-place team.
This season, Johnson, Hallinan and their teammates aimed to win enough games this season that their fate wouldn’t be decided by an off-court ruling made by grown-ups.
“Last year, we got kicked out of the playoffs, and I really wanted to be better so that we wouldn’t be in the same kind of scenario,” Hallinan said, “so we could win instead of having to fight for it.”
On Thursday night, Hallinan narrowly missed her third triple-double of the season by scoring a career-high 18 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking nine shots.
For the season, Hallinan leads the Redskins with per-game averages of 12 points, 10.1 rebounds and 7.4 blocks.
Along with her two triple-doubles — both were of the points-rebounds-blocks variety — Hallinan also has nine double-doubles, and during one three-game stretch in mid-December, she blocked 46 shots.
“Codi’s the hardest-working player in the league. She put in the time in the offseason, and you see the benefit of putting all that time in,” Port Townsend coach Randy Maag said.
“She’s gotten a lost faster [this season]. For her size, she actually runs up and down the floor really well. She was probably in the bottom two or three [on the team] running sprints last year, now she’s in the top three. That’s been the big part.
“She’s the best shot-blocker we’ve ever had, she’s got a nice shot, she rebounds.”
Hallinan, a 6-foot-2 senior, joined the Total Package select team in Bremerton last offseason with the intent of becoming a more complete player.
“I worked a lot on my hand-eye coordination and my shooting, and we run a lot, so that’s how I got faster,” Hallinan said.
Maag isn’t shy about telling anyone who will listen exactly how he feels about Johnson, a 5-foot-5 junior.
“She’s the best point guard in the league; I’ve been touting her forever,” Maag said.
“She’s as fast as anybody, to start with, she passes the ball really well — she’s fourth or fifth in the league in assists — she scores, she rebounds . . . she’s always working, and plus she’s a good defender”
But Johnson’s performance has spoken even louder than her coach’s promotional work.
She averages 10.5 points, 6.2 rebounds (again, she is 5-foot-5) and 5.5 assists per game.
As is expected form a post player, Hallinan appreciates playing alongside a great point guard.
“She always keeps her eyes up on the floor, she always sees the good passes, she always listens,” Hallinan said of Johnson.
“We work well together.”
As has been the case all season, Johnson and Hallinan had plenty of help beating Sequim on Thursday.
Gabbi Hossack, the team’s second-leading rebounder with 6.1 per game, grabbed 11 boards, including two on the offensive end in the last minute that helped thwart the Wolves’ late-game rally.
Enani Rubio didn’t score, but she pulled down five rebounds and had three assists and two steals.
Irina Lyons only scored two points against Sequim, but she pulled down five rebounds and is the Redskins’ third-leading scorer.
Hossack, Lyons and Rubio are all seniors.
“I’m really excited,” Johnson, a multi-sport athlete, said of making the postseason
“I haven’t been for basketball since my freshman year, and I’m ready to win some playoff games.
“I know it was my goal for us to make it to the playoffs this year, especially for the seniors.”
Thursday’s loss, especially the fourth quarter, nicely encapsulated Sequim’s season.
A put-back by Hallinan gave Port Townsend a 32-22 lead with just over four minutes to play in the game, and it appeared the Redskins might finally pull away from the pesky Wolves.
But Sequim wasn’t quite ready to call it a season.
Senior Columbia Haupt hit a 3-pointer and freshman Emma Anderson scored off a rebound to cut deficit to 32-27 and keep Sequim in the game before Port Townsend (7-9, 11-9) ultimately prevailed.
“One thing about this team, no matter what the score, we didn’t give up,” Sequim coach Evan Still said after the game.
“I’m just so proud of the girls for that. You don’t find that every day.”
The young Wolves — Haupt was the only senior on a roster dominated by underclassmen — were just as persistent with their season.
They managed to fight their way into playoff contention after a slow start.
“I can tell you one thing, Sequim is the most improved team in the league, for sure,” Maag said.
“The difference between them in the beginning of the season to now is no comparison. They’re much, much better.”
With so many players returning, Still said the key to Sequim’s (5-11, 7-13) future will be its players doing as Port Townsend did: dedicate themselves to improvement in the offseason, something that hasn’t necessarily been a team priority in the past.
Returning for the Wolves next year will be leading scorer Alexas Besand, who scored 10 points Thursday, and a slew of this season’s important contributors, such as Caitlin Stofferahn, Elise Beuke, Hailey Lester, McKenzie Bentz, Anderson, Emily Wallner and Melanie Guan.
Port Townsend 34, Sequim 30
Port Townsend 13 4 8 9— 34
Sequim 10 8 2 10— 30
Port Townsend (34)
Johnson 8, Lyons 2, Hossack 4, Reeves 2, Hallinan 18.
Haupt 7, Bentz 3, Wallner 6, Anderson 4, Besand 10.