PORT ANGELES — The potential was there for a classic Rainshadow Rumble rivalry boys basketball matchup between Sequim and Port Angeles on Wednesday night.
It featured such elements as a sizeable crowd, partisan rooting sections for each school’s student body, even an appearance by “PASPN” — featuring a cast of Roughrider students posing as sports broadcasters manning an announce table in the stands.
And the game itself appeared ready to match the atmosphere in the early going, a tight, drama-filled contest on a path toward a nailbiting finish, with the Wolves up 18-14 early in the second quarter.
But that Sequim lead was short-lived. Port Angeles bore down defensively during a 15-0 run over 4 minutes of the second quarter and never looked back as they shot past the Wolves in a 75-45 blowout win.
The Riders scored inside and out during that scoring spurt fueled by steals on the defensive end and long rebounds and runouts for scores.
“Our defense was what helped us the most,” Port Angeles’ Garrett Edwards said of the run. “If we got a stop we were able to push the ball in transition, get easy shots and tire them out.”
Riders coach Kasey Ulin agreed.
“I thought we were more sound defensively, it was five guys rotating together in the right position,” he said. “We were a little emotional as you would expect in the first quarter. We were out of place a lot defensively and they hit some shots. I thought our focus and intensity amped up in that second quarter defensively which led to us getting some stops and getting out in transition and we started to feed off that and went on a little run there.”
The stretch saw Edwards score on a difficult reverse layup, sweet touch on a baseline jumper by Liam Clark and a 3-point basket by Kyle Benedict, whose pressure defense helped ignite the momentum swing for the Riders.
“He’s come a long ways as a defensive player,” Ulin said of Benedict.
“He deserves credit for that because he’s really accepted the challenge of guarding the opponent’s best guard. That requires a lot of energy because we ask him to do a lot offensively. But he wants to be a great player and you need to be able to play both ways to do that.”
Sequim did pull within five just before halftime, but a 3-point basket by Easton Joslin as time expired in the second quarter put Port Angeles up 32-24 at the break.
Edwards, who scored 13 first-half points on his way to a game-high 21 points, poured in two scores early in the third quarter as the Riders’ lead kept growing.
“Our game ball went to Garrett Edwards,” Ulin said. “He was dynamite all night long. We gave him the challenge of guarding Payton [Glasser] who’s been averaging 28, and we held him to 19, four in the second half. And Payton is a great player, he’s a real tough matchup.
“Garrett led us in scoring with 21. He’s worked on a lot of his footwork, whether its going left or finishing right, or going right and finishing left, stepbacks, floaters and finishing while he’s moving. He’s a very good player, he’s strong.
“And he was fired up, he was fired up.”
Edwards said his team “did our job” against the shorter Wolves.
“They didn’t really have anyone that can guard Liam and I or all our bigs and we had shooters open if they did decide to double team us,” he said. “It worked pretty well, if we didn’t have an open shot inside we were able to kick it for an open 3.”
Port Angeles poured in four 3s in the third quarter, one apiece by Payton Schmidt and Gary Johnson, and two more from Andrew Borde as the Riders’ advantage ballooned to 21, 51-30 after three quarters.
Schmidt’s trey received the shooter’s touch, just rolling over and in, and sparking him to hit four more 3s in the fourth quarter.
“He got one to go that was a funny bounce and it drops,” Ulin said of Schmidt. “And you can just see the lights come on and he got confident right there and then he knocks down four more. He’s really explosive for us, he packs a good punch.”
As a team Port Angeles connected on 10 of 22 3-point attempts and shot just under 50 percent in total for the game (29 of 59) from the floor. Sequim, with a smaller bench, looked visibly tired on many of its shots in the second half and connected on 17 of 50 attempts.
Ulin also liked what he received from his bench players who played longer minutes than usual due to foul trouble on Clark and Benedict.
“Our bench was phenomenal,” Ulin said. “Borde was great off the bench, Gabe [Long] came in and did a good job, I thought Gary did a good job, Anton [Kathol] battled. The bench there, with our foul trouble did a great job.”
Port Angeles (1-1, 3-2) hosts Kingston (1-1, 2-3) tonight.
Sequim (1-1, 4-1) hosts Olympic (2-1, 5-2) tonight.
Port Angeles 75, Sequim 45
Sequim 12 12 6 15— 45
Port Angeles 14 18 19 24— 75
Sequim (45) — Glasser 19, Despain 8, Cowan 7, Williams 4, Young 3, Christiansen 3, Rollness 1, Langston, Bell.
Port Angeles (75) — Edwards 21, Schmidt 15, Clark 6, Benedict 6, Borde 6, Joslin 6, Long 6, Johnson 3, McGuffey 2, Kathol 2, Cobb 2, Wood.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.