Friday’s game: Port Townsend’s state title run hits bump

TACOMA – The Port Townsend boys basketball team simply ran out of comebacks.

After rallying from 10- and 9-point deficits to reach the Class 2A state semifinals for the first time in 15 years, the Redskins fell to Northwest Conference champ Burlington-Edison 58-33 on Friday night in the Tacoma Dome.

The Tigers (23-2 overall) outscored the Redskins 30-13 after taking a 28-20 halftime lead to drop Port Townsend (23-2) to the third-place game against Mark Morris (23-4) today at 3:30 p.m.

Mark Morris, the Greater St Helens League champs, fell to Ephrata 60-54 in overtime in the first semifinal of the night.

Regardless of what happens today, the Redskins will earn their first state tropyh since 2002 when they finished seventh. That was also their last appearance at state.

“It’s a good position,” senior Aaron Gifford, who hit the game-tying shot in Port Townsend’s 53-47 overtime win Thursday night before over River Ridge, said.

“They are a really solid team. It will be a good challenge for us. The worst we can get is the top six in the state.”

That being said, Gifford said, “it never feels good to lose.”

The Redskins, who came into the came into Friday’s game as the second-best shooting team in the tournament at 49.3 percent, were held to 32.4-percent shooting on the game.

Many of those shots clanged off the front iron, an indicator of just how tired the Redskins were one night after an overtime slugfest.

“You could tell we were tired,” Port Townsend coach John Stroeder said. “We didn’t have the same snap. It definitely was draining [playing to overtime the night before].

“They’ve been here before so they had experience on us, too.”

And that certainly showed for the Tigers, who had no trouble scoring points.

SPU scholarship player Jake Anderson led the team with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Evan Coulter added 15 points and Colin Stewart 13.

The top shooting team in the tournament coming into Friday, Burlington-Edison hit 44.4 percent from the field and turned the ball over only seven times to the Redskins’ 20 giveaways.

Only junior Parker McClelland reached double figures for the Redskins with 13 points to go along with nine rebounds.

Gifford, who had19 points on Thursday, was held to five points on 2 of 10 shooting.

“I thought we could run with them,” Gifford said, “we just folded a little bit in the second half. They were a really solid team. “They were too good of a team to try and [comeback on].”

Ross Bringgold scored seven points despite being plagued by foul trouble from the outset.

The senior picked up two fouls in the game’s first minute, and another two early in the third. His fifth foul, coming with 6:38 left to play, meant he saw a little under six minutes of floor time.

“He’s a big part of our team,” Stroeder said. “That was a big factor. But I can’t make excuses. They had their five and we had our five. They beat us tonight.”

Port Townsend hung with the Tigers early on, even taking a 4-1 lead to begin the game. The Tigers scored six straight points, and Port Townsend would never lead again.

The Redskins came back from nine points to beat West Valley of Spokane 45-41 before coming back against River Ridge on Thursday.

Yet they couldn’t find that same magic against Burlington-Edison.

“I’m proud of my kids for winning two games [at state],” Stroeder said. “I think we earned a little respect.”

—-

Sports reporter Matt Schubert can be reached at 360-417-3526 or at [email protected]

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