PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles had a little trouble getting the layup line started in pregame warmups before its season-opening girls basketball contest with Class 3A Bainbridge.
Once the game tipped off however, there were few issues as the Roughriders’ stout 1-3-1 zone defense pressured the Spartans into 29 turnovers, and Port Angeles led from wire-to-wire in a 52-29 win at home Wednesday.
“I didn’t want to run it tonight,” Riders coach Michael Poindexter said of the 1-3-1 zone. “I wanted to run man, I wanted to press in man and the kids talked me out of it. They just have so much ownership and so much passion for playing that and they are good at it.’
“Our seniors at the bottom in Gracie [Long] and Natalie [Steinman] and now Millie [Emilia Long] play the baseline and flow so well.”
After running out to a 7-0 lead to start the game, Port Angeles was up 13-6 after one quarter.
A bucket inside by senior post Devin Edwards and consecutive steals and runout layups by Long put the Riders in control up 19-6.
It was the varsity debut for freshmen Long, Madison Cooke and Jaida Wood, and all contributed in the win. Long started at guard, handled the ball well, defended with great effort and scored eight. Cooke was active offensively with eight points and rebounded well off the bench and Wood scored six in reserve.
Eight second-quarter points by Bainbridge’s Olivia Wikstrom gave the Spartans some life, but a late layup by Cheyenne Wheeler skipped high off the glass and in for a 28-16 Port Angeles lead at halftime.
“Cheyenne had a great game,” Poindexter said of his senior who posted a game-high 13 points.
While a promising debut for the entire team, the Riders weren’t perfect.
“We are going to make mistakes, we were stagnant on offense. But they understood that, they came up with six things to work on in the lockeroom at halftime and that was a big one,” Poindexter said.
“We were a little careless with our entry passes [into the post], we passed into traffic a little too much and if we hit a few more layups we could have scored 60.”
But the Port Angeles defense continued to clamp down on Bainbridge, limiting the Spartans to just five points in the third and holding Wikstrom scoreless in the second half to prevent any comeback opportunity.
“I think the zone movement bothered her,” Poindexter said. “The amount of motion she saw threw her off.”
A free throw by Wheeler and two by Wood put the Riders up 36-21 after three quarters.
The Spartans’ Morgan Lassoff hit a trey to open the fourth quarter, but two scores by Wheeler and another layup by Long pushed the Port Angeles lead to a comfortable 42-24.
Mikkiah Brady had two scores in the final minutes and finished with seven points. Edwards also had seven for a well-balanced Riders offense that saw six players score six or more points.
“This is one of the most coachable groups I’ve ever had,” Poindexter said. “I’m happy, it’s a nice little group.”
Port Angeles (1-0) visits Class 4A Hazen on Saturday.
Port Angeles 52, Bainbridge 29
Bainbridge 6 10 5 8— 29
Port Angeles 13 15 8 16— 52
Bainbridge (29) — Wikstrom 8, Lassoff 7, Havill 6, Carson 5, Kozlosky 2, Ditmore 1.
Port Angeles (52) — Wheeler 13, E. Long 8, Cooke 8, Edwards 7, Brady 7, Wood 6, Steinman 3, G. Long, Gray, Politika, Olsen.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]