PORT ANGELES — Up big early in Tuesday’s Rainshadow Rumble rivalry boys basketball game against Sequim, the Port Angeles student section went to the tried and true “Start the bus” chant.
Typically reserved for late game moments when the outcome is no longer in doubt, the Roughrider students had seen enough to foreshadow the eventual outcome in Port Angeles’ dominant 74-29 victory over the Wolves.
The Riders ran up a 24-2 first quarter advantage and led 40-10 at halftime, suffocating Sequim defensively and scoring early and often in transition and in half-court sets down low to earn their fifth straight win in the rivalry series.
The Wolves didn’t hit their first shot from the field until Michael Young canned a 3-point basket with 4:22 to go before halftime.
“Our defensive intensity in the first two quarters was amazing,” Port Angeles coach Kasey Ulin said. “I thought we did an excellent job of containing the ball, pressuring the ball and being connected defensively. It starts and ends with our defense and when we are connected, rotating and moving and rebounding and we can get out and play a little bit in transition we are tough.”
Port Angeles was sparked by post Anton Kathol and guard Gabe Long off the bench.
“A big asset for us is our depth,” Ulin said.
“We have seven starters, Gabe and Anton could start for any team in the league.”
Kathol came on in place of Garrett Edwards after Edwards picked up two quick fouls in the first two minutes of the contest.
Kathol scored eight of his 11 points in the first quarter.
“We really wanted to get each other good shots and Anton was huge tonight. That was probably his best game of the year rebounding the ball and scoring the ball. He came in and rebounded and scored for us when Garrett came out with a couple of early fouls.
“Sharing the ball, spreading the floor, hitting the open guy we did a great job of that in the first half.”
Junior point guard Gary Johnson was crucial in his role as distributor and defender for the Riders.
“I thought it was Gary’s best game in high school,” Ulin said. “He looked like a seasoned point guard and he played great defense and made Nate [Despain] work for everything. And Nate is one of the best players in our league, he can go off for 30 points any night. And on the flip side of that, Gary got us in sets, he pushed the ball, he made good decisions, he scored the ball…he was phenomenal tonight.”
Kathol and Liam Clark led the Riders with 11 points and Johnson added nine.
“We never try to focus on one guy, we have a lot of balance,” Ulin said. “We have guys who can shoot it, guys who can penetrate and guys who can finish inside. So our whole thing is balance offensively through execution and playing as a team.”
The game turned chippy after halftime with an intentional foul whistled on Despain for a hard foul on a Gabe Long layup, prompting the typically mild-mannered Long to talk some trash in Despain’s direction. And Edwards fouled out after getting into a loose ball scrap on the floor with Sequim’s Riley Cowan — a little of the football rivalry spilling out on the basketball court.
Ahead 53-18 after three periods, underclassmen saw extensive playing time in the fourth quarter for the Riders. Junior Lucas Jarnagin had 10, and sophomore Dru Clark pitched in seven, including a 3-point basket.
“It was great to see the guys that will be coming in soon getting some minutes and doing well,” Ulin said.
Despain led Sequim with six points, while Kyler Rollness and Joey Oliver added five points apiece.
The Wolves (3-3, 7-5) and Riders (4-1, 8-4) will meet again in each team’s regular season finale in Sequim on Jan. 31.
Sequim hosts winless Kingston on Friday, while Port Angeles heads to Clover Park (2-9) for a nonleague game Saturday.
Port Angeles 74, Sequim 29
Sequim 2 8 8 11— 29
Port Angeles 24 16 13 21— 74
Sequim (29) — N. Despain 6, Rollness 5, Oliver 5, Eaton 3, Young 3, Cowan 3, Christiansen 2, D. Despain 2, Whitney, Langston, Wiker.
Port Angeles (74) — Kathol 11, L. Clark 11, Jarnagin 10, Johnson 9, D. Clark 7, Long 6, Benedict 6, Cobb 4, Edwards 3, Schmidt 3, Maestas 2, Bowechop 2, Methner, Nickerson,
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]