By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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Those gifts, extra possessions for the Knights in the form of eight Roughrider turnovers in the first quarter, many on ill-timed entry passes against Bremerton's 3-2 zone defense, helped the Knights to a 9-6 lead with 1:30 to play in the first quarter.
The Riders (6-0 Olympic League, 7-1 overall) coach Michael Poindexter called for a timeout at that point, inserting four fresh substitutions to inject some energy into his squad.
“We weren't real patient with our ball movement, we needed to spread that zone out, and we started looking instead of pass faking and we just sort of saw something and threw it,” Poindexter said after Friday's game of the early turnovers.
Much of the early deficit could be traced to the defensive efforts of Bremerton's Sawyer Kluge, an All-Olympic League First Team selection last season and one of just two seniors for the youthful Knights.
“We knew they run that zone, that's what they do and they have Sawyer [Kluge] up on top and she is tough. She's 5-foot-10, she's long, she's smart and she's in the discussion as one of the top few players in the league,” Poindexter said.
Kluge finished with 13 points to lead the Knights.
After the timeout, the Riders made better decisions on offense, including swinging the ball to a wide open Krista Johnson for a 3-pointer and a basket by birthday girl Maddy Hinrichs fueled a 9-0 run and a 15-9 Port Angeles lead with five minutes left in the half.
Bremerton sophomore Alyssa Beach promptly ended the Riders run with two consecutive 3-point baskets to tie the game at 15-15 with 3:30 left in the quarter.
“We're used to guarding Sawyer and having people be in help mode on her, but whomever is guarding Beach shouldn't be in help mode,” Poindexter said of the lapses in coverage that gave Beach the two open looks.
“Kylee Jeffers made a really good adjustment there and you didn't see that again.”
Enter Port Angeles senior post Bailee Jones.
Jones put the Riders back on top for good by answering Beach's two trey's with a bucket in the post on the ensuing possession.
She added two more postup baskets off of well-timed entry passes from Hinrichs in the final minutes of the first half, and grabbed a rebound and putback off a missed Johnson free throw to beat the buzzer and give Port Angeles a 26-17 halftime advantage.
“Bailee has been doing a great job of getting open and sealing in the post all year long and we haven't always hit her. Tonight, we rewarded her effort,” Poindexter said.
Jones finished with 14 points, tied with Johnson for the game high. Hinrichs had seven and Jeffers and Jolene Millsap had five apiece for Port Angeles.
Port Angeles was a little sloppy in the second half, giving the ball away 19 times to 13 turnovers for Bremerton.
But the Riders were able to keep the Knights at bay by limiting Kluge offensively and holding all other Knight players to just seven second-half points.
The Riders ended any drama left in the contest with an 11-0 run over a 4:14 span at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters to lead 46-26 with just over five minutes left to play.
All alone in first place in the Olympic League standings, Port Angeles will travel to Burlington-Edison (4-3) for a nonleague game this Friday.
Port Angeles 53, Bremerton 30
Bremerton 9 8 8 5— 30
Port Angeles 8 18 11 16— 53
Kluge 13, Beach 8, Heriford 5, King 4.
Port Angeles (53)
Jones 14, Johnson 14, Hinrichs 7, Jeffers 5, Millsap 5, Lee 4, Hofer 2, Norberg 2.