PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles dialed in defensively during the second half of a 51-24 boys basketball win over Rochester, holding the Warriors to just seven points after halftime in the opening round of the Port Angeles Holiday Tournament.
Still, the Roughriders first-half struggles worried head coach Kasey Ulin.
Port Angeles led Rochester 15-14 after one quarter as the Warriors hit three 3s to keep pace with the Riders.
“You’re there, but it’s not contested,” Ulin said of his team’s defense against Rochester’s long-range shooters. “A team that shoots a lot of 3s, if you don’t force them to miss they might make a couple of shots, they can. And the focus wasn’t there, we allow three 3-point shots because the closeouts were late.”
The Riders’ lead slowly built to 24-18 at halftime in a first half that no observer could deem the team’s best basketball.
“It was about a lack of focus early is what it was,” Ulin said. “We became much more focused after halftime. Our intensity picked up. We had a very candid halftime discussion. We challenged them about what they want, how they want their season to go and I was really happy with how they responded.”
The game was rough and tumble, officiated loosely with plenty of contact inside. Port Angeles’ more assertive players such as Anton Kathol in the post and Easton Joslin up top at guard played a large role in the second-half improvement.
“Realistically, [Anton Kathol] was good all night. He and [Andrew] Borde off the bench were our guys who played well off the bench in the first half that played pretty well.
“But all night long [Kathol] worked hard, he rebounded well, he sealed well.
“And Easton is our leader. He gets guys going and he picked up his energy. He had countless steals and tips and offensive rebounds. He was great.”
Kyle Benedict led Port Angeles with 13 points. Liam Clark added 12, showing off his shooting touch away from the basket with a solid midrange jumper and a jump hook. Kathol added 10 points.
“It’s a tale of two halves,” Ulin said. “And it’s a focus, an intensity and a togetherness. And when we combine all those we are pretty good. But if one of those is off, if one of the legs of the chair is not there [we get wobbly.]
Port Angeles (2-1, 6-2) played Sedro-Woolley for the Port Angeles Holiday Tournament title late Saturday. The Riders will travel to Yakima to take on Class 3A opponents Prairie and Southridge in the SunDome Shootout on Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively.
Port Angeles 51, Rochester 24
Rochester 14 4 3 3— 24
Port Angeles 15 9 12 15— 51
Rochester (24) — Robinson 7, Erickson 5, Goldrick 5, Lollar 3, Smith 2, Riley 2.
Port Angeles (51) — Benedict 13, Clark 12, Kathol 10, Edwards 7, Joslin 4, Schmidt 3, Long 2, Wood, Jarnagin, Borde.