PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles hung in and scrapped out an impressive 48-45 win against a state-caliber Class 2A opponent, last season’s state runner-up, in a nonleague girls basketball contest Saturday.
The Roughriders (2-1, 5-2) trailed Burlington-Edison by as much as eight points twice in the final quarter Saturday but a concerted team effort, including points from six different players in the last eight minutes, boosted Port Angeles to the come-from-behind victory. The win against a quality opponent vaulted the Riders to fifth in the state in the latest 2A RPI rankings.
“Resiliency, I thought they showed so much resiliency,” Riders coach Michael Poindexter said. “We didn’t hang our heads, we didn’t quit.”
Freshman Emilia Long shook off an illness to score seven of the team’s final eight points down the stretch on a steal and runout layup, a deep 3-point basket to knot the score at 45-all with 2 minutes to play and a hard-charging banked runner after getting the ball poked her direction on a steal by big sister Gracie Long for a 47-45 lead with 1:13 to go.
She finished with a game-high 16 points.
“I was not really expecting that to go in [the 3 to tie] I was shocked, but if I had missed that I would have been upset with myself knowing it was really important at that time in the game,” Emilia Long said.
“I think I got a little more confident and we needed that boost up, we needed to take the lead. That was really fun, but it was hard, too, because they’d score, we’d score. We just had to answer them.”
Burlington-Edison had a number of looks at the basket in the final 1:13, but couldn’t answer.
Port Angeles freshman Madison Cooke rejected Burlington-Edison’s best chance down low and followed up by hitting the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw opportunity to account for the final score.
“Oh, that was so important and so amazing,” Long said of Cooke’s timely block. “If [the Tigers’ player] had made that shot, that might have been all they needed to win.”
The Tigers did have one last chance to tie but a halfcourt heave at the buzzer by Allyson Ray was long off the backboard.
“I was just happy with the resiliency, they go up and we wouldn’t quit playing. We found a way,” Poindexter said.
“Millie Long was sick, congested, feeling miserable and tired and look how strong she was. We didn’t have our legs today because of the game we had last night [an up-and-down, fast-paced win over Kingston.]. “
Port Angeles did enough to stay close with Burlington-Edison at halftime, trailing 22-16 at the break. The Tigers lead could have been bigger if not for a couple of late 3s by the Long sisters that helped the Riders shave some points off a 20-10 deficit with 1 minute left until halftime.
“We had some big shots though, early on whoever hit those 3s to keep us alive in the second quarter so we were down by six and not down by 12,” Poindexter said.
Port Angeles pulled to within two, 26-24 with under 5 minutes to play in the third, but Burlington-Edison re-opened its advantage and led 39-31 with 6:30 to go in the game.
A difficult up-and-under basket in the post by Cheyenne Wheeler and a long two by Devin Edwards pulled Port Angeles within two, 39-37, with 3:48 to play.
Edwards was a force inside and out all game long, rebounding, defending well and scoring nine points for the Riders.
“Devin did amazing,” Long said. “Her rebounding, her shots, she was great.”
Ray answered Edwards’ long shot with a 3-pointer, but the Riders’ Aeverie Politika had the response required, stepping out from the post to drain a trey from the top of the key to get Port Angeles back within two.
“Aeverie’s shot has been looking so good this year, so right when she shot it I knew it was going to go in, it looked so good,” Long said.
Ray hit another 3 from the right side for a 45-42 lead against Port Angeles’ 2-3 zone, but Long’s gritty play in the final minutes boosted the Riders.
“Our 1-3-1 defense was fine, they just attacked it better than any team we’ve faced,” Poindexter said.
“We can adjust, we just haven’t had enough practices to really pore over it.
“So we switched to a 2-3, and the 2-3 was a little rocky, but [Burlington-Edison] can shoot the ball. You have to spread and stay wide and we have a couple of kids who want to help in the middle and turn their heads away [from the perimeter]. “I say ‘leave the middle to the middle, leave the middle to the middle,’ We just need to spread it out.”
Poindexter left the gym with a smile on his face.
“This team is growing up fast,” he said. “We are right back where we need to be.”
Port Angeles will play host Mark Morris at the Mark Morris Winter Tournament in Longview at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28.
Port Angeles 48, Burlington-Edison 45
BE 6 16 13 10— 45
Port Angeles 8 8 13 19— 48
Burlington-Edison (45) — Ray 15, Husband 10, Watson 5, Reyes 5, Rainaud 3, King 3, Axelson-Ney 2, Woods 2,
Port Angeles (48) — E. Long 16, Wheeler 10, Edwards 9, G. Long 5, Politika 3, Cooke 3, Brady 2, Steinman, Gray, Wood, Olsen, Wenzl.