PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles wanted a test during its own holiday hoops tournament and the Roughriders received one, hanging tough with Sedro-Woolley before fading a little late in a 57-48 loss to the Cubs.
The Roughriders were fully dialed in from the opening tip in Saturday’s defeat, something that couldn’t be said for all of Port Angeles’ 51-24 win over Rochester on Friday.
“Sometimes it’s hard to say in the moment if we got better, but I’m a lot more confident right now than I was 24 hours ago,” Riders coach Kasey Ulin said. “I thought for 30 minutes we played at our tempo and we controlled the game in a contest where we didn’t shoot the ball well. We had a lot of good looks that didn’t go down.”
While not a work of art, the game had a playoff feel with both squads taking it at one another on every possession and fans on each side at times loudly voicing complaints with officiating calls.
“That’s a great game, that’s a state-qualifier type of game,” Ulin said. “I think [Sedro-Woolley] is a top-16 team. We fought and we scrapped and it was a good basketball game as far as — it wasn’t the prettiest game but our guys were scratching and clawing. And I love that about us.”
Nip-and-tuck throughout, Port Angeles led 17-15 after one quarter and the teams went to the locker rooms knotted at 24-apiece after Sedro-Woolley held Port Angeles scoreless for the final 3:29 of the half.
The score continued to see-saw throughout the third quarter, with the Riders’ taking a three-point lead on free throws by Kyle Benedict with 5:44 and a 3-point basket by Payton Schmidt with 2:13 to go up 36-33. But the Cubs rallied to take a 39-38 lead into the fourth.
Sedro-Woolley kept it up in the first two minutes of the final period, scoring the first seven points for a 46-38 advantage with 5:53 to play.
The Cubs weren’t putting on a shooting display by any means during that 13-2 run, but their length led to offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities and Sedro-Woolley took advantage.
“They are a very good offensive rebounding team, one of our points tonight was you can’t just box out, you have to box and fight,” Ulin said. “I think that’s one of our weaknesses and where we give up extra chances, so I think we need to defensive rebound better. If we can improve on that, we will be tough to beat.”
Long and lanky with their top seven players ranging in height from 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-6, the Cubs also played passing lanes for steals and chances in transition.
“We were prepared, we have played them [at summer camp],” Ulin said. It’s little things like where we weren’t strong with the ball, we gave up three or four layups, we gave them points because we weren’t strong with the ball. It is hard to replicate that length at practice — they are 6-3 to 6-6 all across the board.
Port Angeles pulled within 52-48 with 1:33 to play, but foul trouble hurt the Riders down the stretch. Sedro-Woolley (6-3) hit for eight of its 18 fourth-quarter points at the foul line.
Liam Clark led Port Angeles (2-1, 6-3) with 14 points. Schmidt added 12 points on four 3-point baskets and was active defensively.
“We are playing better right now than we have all year,” Ulin said. “We’re going to go play Prairie and Southridge [at the SunDome Shootout Tournament in Yakima on Thursday and Friday] and both of those teams are better than Sedro-Woolley. We will be tested, but that’s why we’ve built the schedule like this, to get better and better and have more and more thrown our way before we start the heart of [Olympic] League play.”
Sedro-Woolley 57, Port Angeles 48
SW 15 9 15 18— 57
PA 17 7 14 10— 48
Sedro-Woolley (57) — Milhelich 22, Isakson 17, Hofstad 8, Thompson 5, S. Dejong 3, E. Dejong 2.
Port Angeles (48) — Clark 14, Schmidt 12, Benedict 10, Joslin 4, Edwards 4, Borde 2, Kathol 2, Johnson, McGuffey, Bowechop.