Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — Port Townsend knows better than to even risk finishing in a tie when its postseason life depends on where it sits in the league standings.
The Redskins took fate into their own hands Tuesday night by edging Port Angeles 48-42 and securing a seventh-place finish in the Olympic League.
The two teams were tied for seventh coming into the game with the Roughriders holding the advantage by beating the Redskins earlier in the season.
Port Townsend needed to finish in the top seven to advance.
Now, Port Townsend (4-11, 7-12) will play a yet-to-be-determined Nisqually League opponent Saturday at 5:15 p.m. in a district tournament play-in game.
“We knew we had to win or go home,” Redskins coach Tom Webster said of Tuesday’s game.
“So, we probably had a lot more riding on this game than [Port Angeles].”
Technically, Port Townsend did have more to gain from a win, but the Roughriders seemed just as dedicated to earning the victory.
After trailing by seven at halftime, Port Angeles outscored the Redskins 15-6 in the third quarter to take a 33-31 lead into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, both teams desperately went after every rebound, and it wasn’t until the final minute when Port Townsend finally pulled away with five free throws from Brian LeMaster, Cody Russell and Paul Spaltenstein.
LeMaster led all scorers with 13 points, despite playing on a sprained ankle.
“I thought he played really well,” Webster said of the senior post who has reached double figures in five straight games.
“He hit some big free throws there at the end.”
LeMaster’s two foul shots with a minute to play extended the Redskins lead to three points, 45-42.
The Riders had chances to tie or get within one possession, but were unable to get their 3-pointers to fall.
Overall, it was a tough shooting night for Port Angeles.
“We struggled to score all night,” Riders coach Brent Stephens said.
Webster said the Redskins changed up their defense after playing a lot of zone the last time the two teams played, when Port Angeles won 56-53.
“Our defense was the key,” Webster said.
“We went old school: straight man-to-man the whole game.”
Webster was a bit surprised that the man-to-man was effective for the entire game.
“They have some really good players, and they’re bigger than us,” he said of the Riders.
“We just kept moving our feet [on defense].”
Webster was particularly pleased that Port Townsend held Port Angeles senior Caleb Treider to six points, down from the 19 he put up on the Redskins last month.
Derek Schumacher led the Riders with 10 points. Tristan Isett had seven points and Brady Konopaski had six.
For the Redskins, Spaltenstein contributed nine points and Daniel Charlton scored eight.
Port Townsend’s win eliminates any controversy that might come from finishing in a tie with Port Angeles (2-13, 3-16).
An agreement reached last week between Port Townsend and the Nisqually League stipulated that the 1A Redskins needed to finish seventh or tied for seventh in the 2A Olympic League in order to be eligible for Saturday’s play-in game.
The way Webster looked at it, there was no way for the Redskins to finish in a tie if they fell to the Riders on Tuesday.
A win would give the two North Olympic Peninsula schools identical league records, but Port Angeles would have a sweep of the season series.
“In no league is that a tie,” Webster said.
The Redskins will host league-leading Sequim (14-1, 16-3) tonight in a game that was previously scheduled for Friday night but was changed to allow Port Townsend more time to prepare for Saturday’s play-in game.
The Riders, meanwhile, will finish their season Friday night against Olympic (14-1, 16-3), which is tied with Sequim for first place in the Olympic League.
Port Townsend 48,
Port Angeles 42
Port Townsend 12 13 6 17— 48
Port Angeles 7 11 15 9— 42
Port Townsend (48)
LeMaster 13, Spaltenstein 9, Charlton 8, O’Brien 5, Russell 5, King 5, Dwyer 2, Coppenrath 1.
Port Angeles (42)
Schumacher 10, Isett 7, Konopaski 6, Treider 6, Elliott 4, Payton 4, Gunderson 3, Hathaway 2.