By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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With the clock ticking down before tipoff, a referee visits each bench and calls for a pregame meeting with team captains at center court.
For the Port Angeles girls, this means the team's player-elected captains, seniors Maddy Hinrichs and Krista Johnson, jog over, shake hands and listen to the official's pregame announcement.
While post Bailee Jones and wing Kylee Jeffers won't make that jog to the center circle this season, the roles as leaders and mentors these two seniors have taken on have helped propel the Roughriders (18-5) to an Olympic League championship and a chance to earn a berth in the Class 2A state tournament.
“They are able to embrace those non-glamorous roles and it's been huge for us,” Port Angeles coach Michael Poindexter said.
“Continually, they are set out as models by opposing coaches — they say please post up like Bailee, please play defense
Port Angeles can punch their ticket to the Yakima SunDome next weekend with a win over Burlington-Edison in a regional final at Mount Vernon High School at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Every team needs scorers and playmakers, and Hinrichs and Johnson fill those roles quite capably as captains for Port Angeles.
Teams that have “glue girls” like Jones and Jeffers, however, are the ones that go further.
Glue girls are players that even novice basketball fans can pick out on the floor.
They play within themselves and limit mistakes, as Jeffers did last week when she moved over to play point guard with Hinrichs in foul trouble and sophomore backup Maddie Boe showing some inexperience in ball-handling against pressure in the Riders' regional-clinching district tournament win over Franklin Pierce.
They clean the offensive and defensive glass and swipe that timely steal, as Jones did late to clinch the Riders' second win over Sequim.
Players like this accept the challenge of guarding the other team's best player, a task that often falls on Jeffers' shoulders, or they help neutralize pressure defense like Jones does handling the ball as the middle outlet in the Riders' press break, making sure the ball progresses up the floor on offense.
Glue girls aren't limited to just doing the “small stuff” out on the floor.
They also can shoulder the scoring load and be the primary playmaker, as Jones displayed in a crucial eight-point spurt in an early season victory over the Bremerton Knights and with the 15 points she poured in against Sequim at home, and like Jeffers showed in hitting 9 of 10 free throws and scoring 11 points against Franklin Pierce.
The reason they hold those scoring gifts back? Because that's what their team needs, and it's their role as glue girls to bond the team together.
“We praise what she [Jeffers] does in areas other than scoring, and it's clear we value that by her time on the floor,” Poindexter said.
“She's able to do so many things: play in the post, play as a wing, even handle the ball and direct the offense as point guard. Her versatility really stands out and she never takes any possessions off, and we really appreciate that.”
Jeffers, a captain of the Port Angeles girls soccer team, has continued in that role in an unofficial capacity during hoops season.
“I consider myself a role model to the younger players like Hayley Baxley and Maddie Boe, and want to help build them up,” Jeffers said in regards to her role on the team.
Encouragement to that effect is always coming from Poindexter.
“He tells us, not only are Krista and Maddy our captains, but to go be a leader out there on the floor and I try to do that,” Jeffers said.
Poindexter has seen growth in Jones' game since he moved over from the boys program to head the girls team before the 2011-2012 season.
“Bailee has really embraced her role as a ball handler,” Poindexter said.
“We use her in the middle of the press break and my first year here when I told her we would use her in that role, she wondered why the ball was in her hands as she didn't feel that was her role.
“But I like our post handling the ball because frequently the girl most likely to be unable to dribble the ball is a post player [and having a post that can handle the ball creates confusion], so I put the ball in her hands and let her go.”
Jones is clear on what she imparts to her teammates.
“Aside from mentoring [freshman post] Nizhoni Wheeler, my goal is to bring more of a family aspect to the team,” Jones said.
“If I notice a teammate is really down or even if they are doing well, I try and encourage them and get myself up with them.”
Where the did the pair learn about leadership and how to carry themselves on the court?
By witnessing the 2011-2012 Riders team, a team that prevailed in numerous tight and tense contests, make the state tournament.
“There were lots of close games, nine of them and the team went 6-3, and they were able to see a different player step up and hit game-winning or game-tying shots almost every game,” Poindexter said as Jones and Jeffers nodded in agreement.
“And two years ago it was a total team effort that got us to Yakima and this group of seniors saw that, internalized it and really respects that, and realize it's not just about one person.”