TACOMA — Turnovers and an inability to get defensive stops late led to an early district demise for the Port Angeles boys basketball team.
The Roughriders’ season came to a close with a 67-62 loss to Fife on Tuesday in a Class 2A West Central District loser-out contest at Wilson High School.
“We turned the ball over 20 times,” Port Angeles coach Kasey Ulin said.
“Too many unnecessary turnovers. And in the fourth quarter we were just going back-and-forth with them. We couldn’t string together two consecutive stops. We are a defensive team, we pride ourselves on that, and we couldn’t get the stops we needed. We scored 62 points and that should have been enough [to win].”
The Riders started strong, leading 20-13 after the first quarter, but bogged down offensively in the second period and trailed 27-24 at halftime.
Port Angeles (11-10) received a lift out of the locker room from sophomore Kyle Benedict, who scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second half to push the Riders to a 43-42 lead after three quarters.
“Kyle averaged 22 points a game in district play,” Ulin said. “He stepped up and played really well the past two weeks.
Ulin also praised junior Colton McGuffey and sophomore Garrett Edwards for their efforts.
“Colton McGuffey did a great job of coming into the game and setting good screens and scoring some points  for us,” he said. Garrett Edwards did a good job as well, got us some inside shots.”
Fife’s Tavis Johnson notched 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help the Spartans (14-11) pull away down the stretch.
Noah McGoff had 13 points in his final game for Port Angeles, while fellow seniors Grayson Peet and Luke Angevine had nine and five, respectively.
“It’s very disappointing,” Ulin said. “There was no one in that locker room ready for the season to end.”
“Last year we were happy to be in the playoffs, and this year we had high goals and a special group and we were two possessions away really, one each game from being 2-0 at districts.
“I can’t thank the three seniors enough for the time and commitment they put into the program. Our expectations and commitment level is now very high and the future is bright for PA basketball. And these three seniors have a lot to do with that.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of those three, they will be sorely missed, but next year when we are in a district game and we get that win, they’ll be in the stands watching but they’ll have been a big part of it.”
Ulin is optimistic that a talented and tall crop of returners including Liam Clark, Edwards, Benedict, Payton Schmidt and freshman Anton Kathol, Gary Johnson and Skyler Cobb will help the program continue to improve.
Fife 67, Port Angeles 62
Port Angeles 20 4 18 20 — 62
Fife 13 14 16 20— 67
Port Angeles (62) — Peet 9, McGoff 13, McGuffey 6, Angevine 5, Benedict 21, Edwards 6, Clark 2.
Fife (67) — Cooley 4, Afework 17, Schelbert 8, Graham 13, Williams 3, Helgin 2, Johnson 20.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]