PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles found itself tested early in its season opener and showed flashes of potential on both ends of the floor in a 58-53 nonleague boys basketball loss to Class 3A Bainbridge.
The biggest takeaway? The Roughriders tapped into some apparently ample reserves of mental toughness. After falling behind big and digging out of an early first-quarter hole, Port Angeles took the lead in the second half and had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds when a contested corner 3-point shot by Payton Schmidt rattled off the rim.
“I loved it because we got punched in the face early down 23-8,” head coach Kasey Ulin said. “And the question becomes how are we going to be able to respond? You’re going to have to be able to take punches when you play tough teams but you have to be able to respond. So that was awesome, we passed that test.
“It was awesome for us because the game put us in some situations you will encounter later in the season. We had to press to get back into it, we had to make plays late, we had to foul, we had to draw up a play to tie it, all sorts of things that will help us later.”
The Riders trailed 23-8 after the first quarter when Bainbridge’s Charlie Hoberg drained his fourth 3-point shot of the quarter at the buzzer. Hoberg also had an old-fashioned 3-point play in the opening frame, posting 15 of his game-high 24 points early.
Port Angeles cut the Spartans’ lead to 30-26 at halftime thanks to defensive adjustments. A 1-2-2 backcourt press forced Bainbridge into some turnovers and tighter man coverage in the halfcourt held down the Spartans’ shooters.
“We started getting stops, getting one-and-out possessions on the defensive end, so we can get out in transition and run a little bit,” Ulin said.
“We let their shooter get into a rhythm early on, that’s basketball, he’s a real good shooter. But, we were able to slow down, catch our breath, get more fundamental defensively and then we got confident, we got scores and really evened the game up almost by halftime.”
Kyle Benedict scored nine of his team-high 13 points in the second quarter for the Riders.
Schmidt knocked down back-to-back treys in the opening minutes of the third quarter to give Port Angeles its first lead of the game, 33-32. A blocked shot by Liam Clark on the defensive end led to Schmidt’s first 3-pointer.
Garrett Edwards and Anton Kathol also had blocked shots down low in the second half for the Riders.
“We have some tough posts in Liam, Garrett and Anton,” Ulin said. “We can go with some physical lineups.”
Bainbridge and Port Angeles swapped 3-point baskets in the final minutes of the third.
Andrew Borde hit consecutive treys, the second knotting the score at 40-all as the Riders’ run continued.
Borde played with poise throughout, hitting three 3-point baskets and scoring 12 points.
“He’s the man,” Ulin said of Borde. “He’s a coaches’ dream. He does everything right. He’s so fundamental, he makes big shots. He can play in crucial moments, he’s smart, he’s tough. I love him.”
But Spartans’ point guard Ethan Schulte answered both of Borde’s treys with made 3s of his own as Bainbridge went up 43-40 after three quarters.
The Spartans lead grew to 55-47 with 1:05 to play, but Port Angeles had one last burst left.
Schmidt hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left, and after a Benedict steal on the defensive end, Clark scored, was fouled and hit his free throw to pull the Riders within 55-53. Bainbridge then hit one free throw to go up by three and setting up Schmidt’s potential game-tying attempt.
“I loved the effort, the energy, the toughness and togetherness,” Ulin said. “All the stuff we preach is there. We just need to be a little more disciplined and a little more together in the crucial moments and we’ll be fine.”
The Riders (0-1) face another test, the high-octane offense of another 3A school Mount Tahoma, at home Friday.
Bainbridge 58, Port Angeles 53
Bainbridge 23 7 13 15— 58
Port Angeles 8 18 14 13— 53
Bainbridge (58) — Hoberg 24, Schulte 17, Nicholas 12, Taylor 5.
Port Angeles (53) — Benedict 13, Borde 12, Schmidt 11, Clark 7, McGuffey 5, Edwards 2, Joslin 2, Kathol 1.