TACOMA — Port Angeles came out aggressively and traded salvos early on with a physical Archbishop Murphy team but lost its initial competitive fight and fell 50-36 Saturday in a Class 2A State Regional at Mount Tahoma High School.
The Roughriders (20-5) still advance to the Class 2A State Tournament, but will be on the brink of elimination when they face East Valley (Yakima) (18-6) at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday in a loser-out game at the Yakima SunDome.
“It was offensive hesitation suddenly, and taking shots that didn’t have much of a chance of going in,” head coach Michael Poindexter said.
“Instead of going to the rim, we were falling away on our shots. I didn’t think I saw the same confidence in our outside shooters that the ball was going in. You could read our body language, it was a little hesitant, a little upset with their physicality instead of just fighting back. And we have got to be fighters. I thought we had learned that with games against Olympic and Kingston, and we have fought through better than some teams that we have had.
“We just lost that confident attitude and started to do things that … it’s hard to describe, it’s ineffable, it’s hard to put words to that collective, physical backing away.”
Port Angeles went up 14-12 after the first quarter, but managed just three points in the second frame and trailed 25-17 at halftime.
“[Assistant] Coach [Jenn] Rogers talked about it in the locker room, ‘You showed them in the first quarter by going up by two that you belonged.’ And we battled with them physically, we were quick and it was going to be a good game, but that second quarter we had some breakdowns on our defense, we switched defenses, we had some miscommunication on the court about where people should be. We gave up some offensive boards and that combo allowed them to score some.
“But I can’t really blame defense tonight, if we are going to hold Archbishop Murphy to 50 points I’m happy enough.”
Port Angeles hung around with Archbishop Murphy (22-2 overall) in the second half but could come no closer than the halftime deficit, vexed by the Wildcats’ tight defense and their ability to maintain calm and answer Riders’ baskets with makes of their own.
“We got to the line in the first half, shot nine free throws in the first half and two in the second half,” Poindexter said. Their shifting defenses, the one-up zone, and the man and zone shifts caused us a little bit of hesitation. We got intimidated I think by their size inside.
“We had a game plan that our posts and bigger guards could attack directly into the body, and we did get to the line in the first half really well, but we suddenly got a little cautious. Or we had 1 on 3 or 1 on 4 drives into the teeth of a zone and that’s not going to be effective. We got a little desperate, got away from what was working for us early, and we lost a kind of edge, an attitude that we had in the first quarter.”
Cheyenne Wheeler scored six of her seven points on contested shots inside, including a sweet up and under pump fake and Port Angeles was within nine with four minutes to play. An ensuing stop on the defensive end and a rebound by Natalie Steinman had the Riders looked to be in business for a comeback, but with three defenders hanging off of her, Steinman stumbled and was whistled for a traveling violation.
The call was the most glaring example of how much physical contact was allowed in a loosely-officiated game, and put a pin in Port Angeles’ attempt at any late-game heroics.
Now the Riders will face an East Valley team that will have the benefit of playing in front of a hometown crowd Wednesday.
“We went and scouted East Valley and Prosser in Ellensburg two weeks ago,” Poindexter said. “The message to our team is look at what Lynden did last year. They lost their regional game and came in and won the state championship. That’s what we have to try and emulate.”
ATM 50, Port Angeles 36
ATM 12 13 12 13 — 50
PA 14 3 8 11 — 36
Port Angeles (36) — Brady 3, Cooke 7, Wood 3, Edwards 4, Wheeler 7, G. Long 3, E. Long 9, Politika, Olsen, Gray, Wenzl.
Archbishop Murphy (50) — Riojas 4, Hill 9, Dorney 4, J. Lucas 4, Rodabaugh 18, Hayward 8, Graham 2.