PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles picked a bad time to play as poorly on defense as it had in years in a 48-41 loss to defending Olympic League 2A Division champion North Kitsap.
The Roughriders fought back after a meager first half left them trailing the Vikings 24-11 at halftime.
“We were not very tough early and not very smart,” Port Angeles coach Michael Poindexter said.
“North Kitsap was down a couple of players [guards Lauren Weins and Olivia Selembo] and they really got after it. They played with intensity, unity and intelligence. They made the final 16 [state regionals] last year like we did. They aren’t there by accident.”
“We didn’t adjust well [in man defense], so we switched to zone, usually our forte,” Port Angeles coach Michael Poindexter said. “And then we stood. Some kids gambled too much, some kids didn’t cover, and it was the worst defense I’ve seen in years for us. I thought the first half was the worst defensive effort I’ve seen in years. And we aren’t used to that. I’m not.”
Some of the Riders’ struggles could be attributed to North Kitsap getting long rebounds and runouts after Port Angeles missed shots.
The Vikings’ talented junior guard Raelee Moore scored 12 of her game-high 20 points in the second quarter, attacking the rim repeatedly as North Kitsap built a big lead with a pair of 8-0 runs in the second quarter.
“Raelee Moore is the real deal, we knew that, but I don’t think our younger players knew that,” Poindexter said. “Even though you can talk about it, that girl can play. Their other girls aren’t shabby. We just didn’t move our feet, we didn’t communicate, we started out in man and got a lot of fouls on us. We would have stayed in man but we couldn’t afford [getting into foul trouble].
“And the offense, we were getting a ton of shots, but I don’t think the kids really believed they were going in. We rushed a few, we didn’t shoot very confidently but we took the right shots,” Poindexter said.
“We offensive rebounded well early, if we had played defense and just missed shots I would have been fine. But we didn’t play D and it was 24-11. We did dig out of it, I was shocked, but they were rattled.”
To their credit, the Riders didn’t quit. Freshman Emilia Long and Madison Cooke scored six apiece in the third quarter, Cooke’s points coming on consecutive 3-pointers, and Port Angeles whittled the Vikings’ lead to 28-25 when Aeverie Politika tossed in a buzzer-beating basket at the end of the third.
Long opened the fourth quarter with another bucket to pull the Riders within a point, and a baseline runner by Cooke again trimmed the Vikings lead to one, 39-38 with less than four minutes to play, but North Kitsap had answers on its end and never allowed Port Angeles to reclaim the lead.
“We missed too many shots inside and I think our defensive feet, vision and toughness were lacking. I don’t think we are tough,” Poindexter said.
Some mistakes in the final stretches also hurt the Riders, including giving up a wide-open layup by Grace Johnson on a full-court inbounds play.
“The fourth-quarter breakdowns were press responsibilities, kids got confused because we have different press looks. We switched from one to another and a player forgot we were in it. But it’s new, and I’m OK with that. It’s the first game we’ve really run that [man press] since four or five years ago.
“I think we are capable of playing really well, but it’s going to be a learning experience,” Poindexter said. “Some of our older kids really need to take that pride in establishing what we do well.”
North Kitsap 48, Port Angeles 41
North Kitsap 8 16 4 20— 48
Port Angeles 6 4 14 16— 41
North Kitsap (41) — Moore 20, Hughes 12, Barreith 8, Pearson 6, Johnson 2.
Port Angeles (48) — Long 18, Cooke 8, Brady 3, Wood 3, Wenzl 3, Edwards 2, Politika 2, Wheeler 1, Steinman 1, G. Long 1