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Peninsula Daily News
As a basketball team advances in the postseason, they’re bound to face better competition.
That’s kind of the idea.
Postseason opponents also are likely to come from a different region of the state, and tend to be a bit mysterious.
This makes preparing for difficult teams even more difficult.
This is what four area teams — the Neah Bay boys and girls, Port Angeles girls and Sequim boys — are dealing with this week as they prepare for regionals.
All four teams must win to advance to state.
Roughriders coach Michael Poindexter is more focused on what he can control. Specifically, how his team plays.
Port Angeles plays the Cedarcrest Red Wolves at Lynden High School today.
“Perhaps there is a little bit of mystery, but this time of year that happens,” Poindexter said.
“The key is going to be playing really good defense, which we have been, and shooting well, which we haven’t been doing lately.”
Before putting up 43 points in their win against Olympic on Monday, the Riders failed to surpass 40 points in three consecutive games.
This from a team that averaged more than 50 points per game during the regular season.
Poindexter said the scoring dip could be the result of a number of factors.
It could the fatigue of playing three games in five days, big-game jitters, facing taller teams, longer bus rides or simply a shooting slump.
The thing with shooting struggles is focusing on them can be more harmful than helpful.
Poindexter said the Port Angeles coaches will discus shooting a little bit in practices this week, and will also give the players a chance to talk about it.
The Riders will also continue to do what Poindexter called “competitive shooting drills,” which encompass all shots, from lay-ups to free throws.
“Our focus is going to be at the end of the shot, the release, and keeping our eyes on the shooting target and not the defender,” Poindexter said.
Offensively, Port Angeles can be a tough team to prepare for, even for the teams that have had a chance to scout them, because they have so many scoring options.
Maddy Hinrichs, Macy Walker, Mariah Frazier, Shayla Northern, Krista Johnson, Bailee Jones and Payton Lee have all had double-digit scoring games this season.
“Our identity has been about balance,” Poindexter said.
“We win with balance; it could be one of seven kids who leads us in scoring.”
Whether or not their offense torches the nets, the Riders know they can rely on their defense.
In three of the last four games (the same games in which they failed to score 40 points), they have held their opponents to 36 points or less.
Port Angeles has held its opponents to 40 points or less 15 times this season.
The Riders typically employ a full-court press that terrorized the Olympic League all season long.
And although Walker led the league in steals, that isn’t the purpose of the press.
“The press is designed to wear teams down over four quarters,” Poindexter said.
“We want teams to play faster than they want to.”
Poindexter said Port Angeles gets more steals in its half-court defense.
“We pride ourselves on our half-court defense,” he said. “We use the press in conjunction with our half-court defense.
“The press is a bit of our identity, but if we get out of our press, the kids don’t get worried.”
Poindexter does know a little bit about Cedarcrest.
The Red Wolves have a 6-foot-1 post, Kalyn Campbell, who “scores quite a bit.”
Cedarcrest (21-3) has taller post players than the Riders, whose only player taller than 5-foot-9 is Jones.
But Port Angeles also has players like Frazier and Kylee Jeffers, who have shown the ability to play bigger than their 5-foot-7 heights, and also use their quickness as a weapon against taller foes.
“We have a little bit of a height disadvantage in the post,” Poindexter said.
“I’m not so worried about their overall height as I am about getting back and not allowing easy baskets after their rebounds.”
Sequim coach Greg Glasser was able to see the Hawks in person earlier this week when they played Washougal in Vancouver for the right to move on to regionals.
The Wolves (20-4) and Hockinson (14-10) play Saturday at Kent-Meridian High School.
Glasser said the Hawks have a similar style to Port Angeles: dribble-drives to the basket and then kicking the ball to the perimeter for 3-pointers.
“We will feel really familiar with what they do,” Glasser said.
The Wolves enter the postseason healthy and battle-tested.
“We’re playing really well right now,” Glasser said.
“We’re really finishing games well. We’ve been in some close games that came down to who was going to make more plays.”
Last weekend, Sequim beat Franklin Pierce 48-42 and Sumner 55-48.
Glasser also said the background behind the hoops at Kent-Meridian is “like a normal high school,” as opposed to the backdrops that bothered the Sequim’s shooters in Monday’s loss to Clover Park at the ShoWare Center.
Both Neah Bay teams have 1B regional games this weekend.
The boys, who are 16-2 on the season, are playing the Waterville Shockers at Lynnwood High School in Bothell on Saturday afternoon.
The girls, who are 14-3, have to travel all the way to Wenatchee, where tonight they will face Pateros (16-3) at Eastmont High School.
The two Red Devils squads are looking to return to the state tournament in Spokane, where they experienced considerable success in the last few years.
The boys were the 2011 runners-up and last year they took third in state.
The girls are coming off consecutive fourth-place finishes and have placed at state five consecutive years.