Dunning cans a big Trey. PA up 65-60 1:26 to go pic.twitter.com/nJuooLKUMp
— Michael Carman (@MikeCarmanPDN) June 4, 2021
PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles withstood an early barrage by North Kitsap sharpshooter Jonas La Tour, never backing down against the defending state champions in a 70-60 Olympic League boys basketball victory.
The Roughriders (9-1, 10-2) earned a share of the league’s regular season championship with the win, but a head-to-head loss to Bainbridge gives the Spartans the No. 1 seed to the league tournament.
Port Angeles will host the No. 7 seed at 5 p.m. Saturday.
La Tour quick and accurate shot torched the Roughriders for 18-first quarter points and forced Port Angeles into a wholesale defensive change for the remainder of the game — a 2-3 zone.
“Normally you wouldn’t go to a zone in that situation, but our guys are really comfortable with it,” Riders coach Kasey Ulin said. “The way we play it’s more of a matchup zone with different principles and rules for different personnel.”
Wyatt Dunning, who led Port Angeles with 25 points, said the team refocused on stopping La Tour while in the zone.
“Our main focus was Jonas, he’s a really good player, so when he was in our area it was almost man-to-man defensive principles,” Dunning said.
Dru Clark was the spark Port Angeles needed at the top of the zone defensively, playing passing lanes early and scoring 12 second-quarter points as the Riders regrouped.
“Dru Clark the ultimate competitor,” Ulin said. “He has such a passion for the game and once he made a few plays our guys started to get in rhythm and it changed the game.”
Dunning also got going, scoring 12 in the second, including an up-and-under play in the post that got La Tour to bite and pick up his second foul and capped an 11-0 Port Angeles run to give the Riders a 27-25 lead.
“He’s such a problem to matchup with,” Ulin said of the junior forward. “He’s got such a great shot, he’s long and strong and probably our best post-up player. He has a real soft touch.”
Dunning said he was just doing what he was told.
“First quarter, I only got one shot off and the coaches were telling me I needed to shoot more,” Dunning said.
John Vaara also was a force on both ends of the floor, scoring 13 points, picking up a big block and altering the arc of numerous North Kitsap jumpers.
“I though John and Wyatt were just phenomenal,” Ulin said.
“John demanded the ball at times, was really aggressive and challenged a lot of shots.
“I think those two will be the best front court in the state next year.”
Dunning liked what he saw out of Vaara.
“John was banging on them on the inside, wearing them down,” Dunning said. “He’s got great skills and he finishes through contact. He’s a great defender, too.”
The Riders limited La Tour to a modest 12 points after halftime, only two of which came in the fourth quarter as Port Angeles took control down the stretch.
A Dunning 3 with two seconds left on the shot clock, followed by a foul on North Kitsap, led to a 5-point swing that essentially sealed the game, giving the Riders a 65-59 lead after two Clark free throws with 1:54 to play.
“We’ve focused on character growth this season and the team chose one word that will define who we will be this year and they voted for resilience,” Ulin said. “And the definition for us is bouncing back from setbacks. And we did that tonight, we took punches, continued to fight and chose love over fear.
“What a special night and an unbelievably special team, I’ve never had a team where every guy 1-13 understand their roles, embrace their roles and value their roles.”
Port Angeles 70, North Kitsap 60
NK 22 11 16 11 — 60
PA 10 24 19 17 — 70
North Kitsap (60) — La Tour 33, Brockett 11, J. Olmstead 8, Orness 8.