By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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There's the 9-0 league record after beating the Olympic Trojans 58-40.
But there's also the 3-2 zone the Roughriders have been employing to better than satisfactory results since using it to beat Burlington-Edison over the winter break.
That doesn't mean the Riders are the Olympic League's version of Syracuse, which is famous for its zone defense.
“We have some people really stepping forward and embracing that defense,” Port Angeles coach Michael Poindexter said following Wednesday's game.
“Now, I don't think it's going to define who we are down the stretch, but it gives us options.
“We can always come back there [the man-to-man defense], and we'll keep getting more and more versatile as we go.”
Port Angeles opened the game on offense, passing the ball around the court until Krista Johnson hit a 3-pointer.
The Riders' next bucket came on a steal and score by Maddy Hinrichs for a 5-0 lead one minute into the game.
It was the first of many steals near the top of the zone by Port Angeles guards, particularly the duo of Hinrichs and Johnson.
“They read well,” Poindexter said of his senior starting backcourt.
“They work together well; there's a nice chemistry between the two of them.”
Johnson had a strong first half and finished with 17 points, three steals and three assists.
Hinrichs took over in the second half, scoring 15 of her 21 points. She made 10 of 16 field goals and had three steals.
Olympic struggled to advance the ball much further than the 3-point line on offense and was forced to heave desperation jumpers as the shot clock ran out.
When the Trojans did get near the hoop, the second line of Port Angeles' zone didn't allow Olympic many good looks at the basket.
“Kylee Jeffers and Brittany Norberg are playing the zone very, very well on the side, and Bailee [Jones] and Nizhoni [Wheeler] in the middle both do a nice job,” Poindexter said.
Port Angeles led 29-14 at halftime and 40-25 after three quarters, both comfortable leads, but the Riders stayed in their zone in order to further improve, particularly in the post.
There aren't a lot of tall players in the Olympic League, but Port Angeles will face tall, skilled players in districts and regionals.
“If we are using the zone as part of our repertoire, we've got to be able to defend that better. So one of the reasons we stayed in it was just so we can learn and . . . look at it on film and really learn to get better at it.
“In a playoff game, we probably would have come out of it.”
With the win, Port Angeles (9-0 in league, 11-2 overall) is now three games ahead of Olympic (6-3, 8-5).
Elsewhere in league play, Bremerton beat Kingston 49-44 on Wednesday to drop the Buccaneers (6-3, 7-4) three games behind the Roughriders.
Sequim (7-2, 7-6) is alone in second place, two games behind Port Angeles, after beating Port Townsend 42-40.
After scoring only 14 points in the first half of Wednesday's game, the Trojans found their shooting touch over the last two quarters and finished 6 for 17 from 3-point range.
Olivia Williams scored 23 points for Olympic to lead all scorers.
“Olivia is wonderful. She works hard for what she gets,” Poindexter said.
“Those two 3s she stuck in that first half — we can't guard her any better. She earned all that.”
Port Angeles hosts winless North Mason (0-9, 0-12) tonight a 7 p.m.
Port Angeles 58, Olympic 40
Olympic 8 6 11 15— 40
Port Angeles 13 16 11 18— 58
Olympic (6-3, 8-5)
Aubrey Arce 2, Katie Campana 6, Brayana Elmore 2, Olivia Williams 23, Lilli Stenzel 2, Shania Anderson 5.
Home (9-0, 11-2)
Maddie Boe 4, Maddy Hinrichs 21, Bailee Jones 6, Hayley Baxley 2, Brittany Norberg 2, Krista Johnson 17, Payton Lee 2, Kylee Jeffers 4.
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.