By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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A pair of unheralded bench players helped the Roughriders survive after the Redskins forced Port Angeles to earn the Olympic League win by mounting a comeback in the final five minutes of Monday's game.
Junior guard Logan Ciaciuch, at 5-foot-10 one of the shortest players on the court, rebounded a missed free throw by teammate Brady Konopaski and drew a foul with under 10 seconds to play and the Riders clinging to a 56-54 lead.
Ciaciuch sunk the first free throw to give Port Angeles a 3-point cushion.
He missed the second, but sophomore Lambros Rogers tracked down the ball and threw it off a Port Townsend player, and the Riders retained the ball with six seconds to play.
Port Angeles passed the ball around to run out the final seconds before the Redskins managed to stop the clock with a foul.
“Those guys are great coming off the bench,” Port Angeles forward Hunter Hathaway said after the game.
“They work just as hard as anyone in practice, so they're good with the system.
“It's helpful when they can contribute like they do.”
Riders coach Brent Stephens said the late-game contributions by Ciaciuch and Rogers show why he's excited about his team's future, despite the current roster of 14 players featuring eight seniors.
“We're senior-laden, that's for sure, but we've got some solid underclassmen who can play huge minutes in the future,” Stephens said.
“We've got young kids who are ready and willing to do what they need to do to help us get better.”
Rogers' possession-saving play was just one of many big plays he made throughout the game, highlighted by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close out the third quarter.
“Lambros did a good job for us,” Stephens said.
“Lambros was a high-energy guy coming off the bench, which a lot of them are asked to be. And he's just kind of genuinely accepted his role and where he's at, and he's done a good job.
“This is by far his best game this year. He did a good job defensively, he did a good job offensively. He's been very good for us.”
Rogers finished with nine points, a career high.
Rogers' 3-pointer gave the Port Angeles a 48-36 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Riders again went up by 12 with 4:55 to play when senior guard Hayden Gunderson made one of the five 3-pointers he hit on his way to a game-high 20 points.
“If Hayden shoots well, then we're really dangerous, because it's tough to stop — you can't zone us, and I don't care who we play, you can't man us,” Stephens said.
At that point, Port Angeles appeared to have the game in hand, but Gunderson's shot was the last field goal the Riders would make in the game.
Over the next 4 minutes and 20 seconds, Port Townsend went on an 11-1 run to cut the deficit to 54-52.
Jacob King began the rally with the last of his team-high 15 points, before picking up his fourth foul less than a minute later and being relegated to the bench for the remainder of the game.
The Redskins also lost starting post Skyler Coppenrath, who fouled out in the midst of the comeback attempt.
However, led by Paul Spaltenstein, who leads Port Townsend with 16.6 points per game, the Redskins kept the rally going.
Spaltenstein found Sean Dwyer for a 3 to make it 54-48.
Then Chris Adkins assisted the first of two consecutive buckets by Spaltenstein that brought Port Townsend within two points, 54-52.
Steven Lauderback made a pair of free throws to put Port Angeles up by four, but Spaltenstein answered with another basket to make it 56-54 with 17 seconds left.
That set up the heroics by Ciaciuch and Rogers.
“With our two bigs out of there . . . they had a definite, I thought, size advantage on us,” Port Townsend coach Tom Webster said.
“And then they're pretty athletic around the basket. So, it's really important you box them out the whole time. You know, we got a guy to miss two free throws and you can't box out on free throw.”
Spaltenstein finished with 14 points, and Cody Russell contributed 10.
“I was happy with our effort. I didn't know what to expect because we hadn't played P.A.,” Webster said.
“That was anybody's ball game right down to the wire.
“I'm proud of my kids for that, but we always feel like if we could have done a few more things right, we could have come out on top.”
Port Townsend (2-6 in Olympic League, 4-7 overall) hosts Sequim (6-2, 8-4) tonight in the nightcap of a doubleheader.
The Sequim and Port Townsend girls tip off at 5:15 p.m., followed by the boys game at 7 p.m.
Port Angeles (5-3 in Olympic League, 7-5 overall) plays at Olympic (5-3, 7-5) today. The Riders beat the Trojans 74-72 at home earlier this season.
Port Angeles 57, Port Townsend 54
Port Townsend 14 11 11 18— 54
Port Angeles 14 19 15 9— 57
Port Townsend (2-6, 4-7)
Russell 10, Coppenrath 4, D. Charlton 2, Spaltenstein 14, Dwyer 6, Adkins 3, King 15.
Port Angeles (5-3, 7-5)
Konopaski 6, Gunderson 20, Ciaciuch 2, Lauderback 7, Polly 4, Rogers 9, Burns 2, Schumacher 6.