By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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Needing a lift, with floor leader Maddy Hinrichs plagued by foul trouble for half the game, the Roughriders were propped up by steady play from seniors Kylee Jeffers and Krista Johnson on their way to a 54-28 regionals berth-clinching win.
“We had an eight-day layoff and it didn't look like it, the kids came ready to play,” Port Angeles coach Michael Poindexter said following Wednesday's game.
At the tail end of a 12-0 run, and with the Riders leading 18-8 with 6:27 left before halftime, Hinrichs, who wears No. 13, was mistaken for Jones, who wears No. 23, and incorrectly whistled for her second foul of the first half.
A sub came in for Jones instead of Hinrichs, who immediately picked up her third foul on a reach-in on the ensuing inbounds play.
To keep the lead, the Riders (18-3) needed some assistance and they received it from Jeffers — a player who has done all the small things, such as playing solid defense, rebounding and forcing steals, all season long that have help Port Angeles pile up big victories.
Jeffers was able to get to the free-throw line and connect on six foul shots in the second quarter, and Johnson cashed in her fourth 3-pointer of the first half as the lead grew to 30-15 at the break.
Johnson finished with a game-high 14 points.
Hinrichs was whistled for her fourth foul, a reach-in in the backcourt just 38 seconds into the third quarter, forcing her to the bench until the fourth period.
“The second foul wasn't her fault and made me go berserk [internally], but the third and fourth fouls, she put herself into trouble there with the reach-in's,” Poindexter said.
The Riders were fine for about a minute, but committed five straight turnovers and went 5:44 without scoring a point in the third quarter.
“Playing a huge amount of minutes without Maddy bothered us, clearly,” Poindexter said.
“She is such an incredible calming influence for us, she's never flustered.”
Poindexter moved Jeffers, normally a wing, to point guard, simplified the offense and hunkered down until the fourth quarter when Hinrichs could return.
“Her leadership really held us together,” Poindexter said of Jeffers.
Port Angeles led 36-23 heading into the fourth quarter before the Cardinals scored the first basket of the period to cut it to 11.
But with Hinrichs back on the floor and Port Angeles more centered as a unit, Franklin Pierce could do nothing but toss up 3-point bricks and send the Riders to the free-throw line in a failed bid to extend the game.
The Riders put the game out of reach from the line, knocking down 12 free throws in the fourth to pull away.
Port Angeles hit 26 of 34 from the line on the night.
The Riders face No. 5 Sumner (21-2) tonight at 6 p.m. at Curtis High School in University Place.
Jamie Lange, a two-time state champion soccer goalie, leads the Spartans with 19.2 points per game.
Port Angeles 54, Franklin Pierce 28
Franklin Pierce 8 7 8 5— 28
Port Angeles 13 17 6 18— 54
Franklin Pierce (28)
Patterson 8, Vailolo 8, Evans 8, Disney 5, Walker 4, Vuthy 3.
Port Angeles (54)
K. Johnson 14, Jeffers 11, Wheeler 5, Hinrichs 5, E. Johnson 4, Jones 4, Norberg 3, Baxley 2, White 1, Boe 1.