The Roughriders’ John Vaara dunks the ball for two of his 14 points against Central Kitsap on Monday in Port Angeles. The Riders won to qualify for the Olympic League championship game against defending state champion North Kitsap on Wednesday night. (Jesse Major/for Peninsula Daily News)

The Roughriders’ John Vaara dunks the ball for two of his 14 points against Central Kitsap on Monday in Port Angeles. The Riders won to qualify for the Olympic League championship game against defending state champion North Kitsap on Wednesday night. (Jesse Major/for Peninsula Daily News)

BOYS BASKETBALL: Port Angeles gets back to true selves, reaches Olympic League Championship

Riders host defending state champion North Kitsap on Wednesday

PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles displayed more of what it’s capable of in blowing out Central Kitsap 69-44 in an Olympic League Tournament boys basketball semifinal at home Monday.

“Much better,” coach Kasey Ulin said of the win. “We really got back to who we are. I thought we were extremely sharp at practice [Sunday], and I thought that translated to the game. These guys have such a good understanding of who they are and what we are, and we wanted to make sure that as we end this year, that we were being us. I didn’t think we were us against Sequim [in a 55-35 win Saturday].

“For the majority of the game, we were engaged and connected on both sides of the ball, and we competed and it was fun to see.”

The Roughriders (12-2) will face defending state champion North Kitsap (13-2) at home Wednesday at 7 p.m. for the league title in the rubber match between the two rivals. North Kitsap had to go to overtime Monday night to beat Bainbridge 65-64.

Each squad won a home game during the regular season, with Port Angeles winning 70-60 at home last Thursday to claim the regular season championship.

Against the Cougars Monday, the Riders were focused defensively in their 2-3 zone.

“Defensively, we were really good at ball pressure and being active in our slides and rotations,” Ulin said. “We did give up too many second chances. And obviously, it’s hard in a zone because you don’t have a specific [player to] box out every time but when we are active and these guys are engaged, we have really good rebounders.”

And Port Angeles adjusted to some offensive slowdowns to put up a nice point total against Central Kitsap’s version of the 2-3.

“Offensively, I thought we were a little stagnant on offense, we stood a little too much, the ball wasn’t moving and our cuts weren’t that sharp,” Ulin said. “So we got into some actions that we like and got some good looks. For the majority of that game we got great shots. A lot of open looks for our shooters and scorers.”

Wyatt Dunning had 25 points to lead Port Angeles, including three 3-point baskets.

“These guys are unique in the sense that they really don’t care who leads the team in scoring. They really enjoy making the pass and the balance was evident today,” Ulin said.

John Vaara had four slam dunks in the game, including a two-handed alley-oop slam dunk off a feed from Xander Maestas.

“We had four or five guys making some really good passes that set up John well,” Ulin said. “And John is becoming a monster inside. He’s really starting to understand how good he is, and when he brings his focus, there may not be a better post in 2A.”

Port Angeles now has an opportunity that most teams covet: the chance to play for a championship on the final day in the final game of the season.

“You always want to do that, play the last possible game on the last possible date, and to get North here for a district/regional title it’s as good as you can get this year,” Ulin said. “We’ve been blessed to have a season, fortunate to have our time together and we are looking forward to playing the defending state champions for a league title.”

Port Angeles 69, Central Kitsap 44

CK 8 8 16 12 — 44

PA 17 22 10 20 — 69

Central Kitsap (44): Johnson 11, M. Green 11, Massey 10, D. Green 4, Rodenhurst 2, Strickland 2, Seaver 2, Foster 2.

Port Angeles (69): Dunning 25, Vaara 14, Clark 13, Cobb 6, Maestas 5, Watkins 4, Wheeler 2, Gundersen, Price, Hall, Burkhardt, Long, Soule, Coppage.

Port Angeles 69, Central Kitsap 44

CK 8 8 16 12 — 44

PA 17 22 10 20 — 69

Central Kitsap (44) — Johnson 11, M. Green 11, Massey 10, D. Green 4, Rodenhurst 2, Strickland 2, Seaver 2, Foster 2.

Port Angeles (69) — Dunning 25, Vaara 14, Clark 13, Cobb 6, Maestas 5, Watkins 4, Wheeler 2, Gundersen, Price, Hall, Burkhardt, Long, Soule, Coppage.

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