PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend’s senior point guard Kaitlyn Meek is accustomed to a quick transition — on the basketball court where she’s shined as a four-year starter in the Redhawks backcourt — or in a rodeo arena where she competes in barrel racing, pole bending and breakaway and team roping events.
She tries to bring a similar level of concentration to both hoops and horseplay.
“I have to focus for everything,” Meek said. “With rodeo, you have to focus on the different events because you go from one to the next to the next. With basketball, going from offense to defense is a quick transition. Get a steal, start dribbling, focus on whether to drive or pass. If I miss a shot on offense, I have to get rid of that [negative thought] and focus on playing defense. If I miss my calf, I have to get my focus back and rope it.”
Meek has been nothing like her last name on the basketball court, where she’s been Port Townsend’s most consistent and leading scorer, distributor, defender and a tough rebounder throughout her career in red, white and black.
She might play for “Town,” as Chimacum players and fans refer to Port Townsend, but Meek is country strong.
“She’s just the hardest-working player,” Redhawks coach Scott Wilson said. Kaitlyn goes after everything relentlessly. If there’s ever a struggle for a loose ball, it’s almost always Kaitlyn going out and scrapping for it.
“She’s just not afraid to mix it up with anybody. I’ve seen her out on the court playing with the boys team and she’s not afraid to match up with them.”
Meek has a relatively polished all-around game, but it’s her defense that helps power Port Townsend.
“My coaches have always said ‘Work hard on defense and you can have a break on offense,” Meek said. “I try to keep my feet moving and be really aggressive.”
Wilson said that movement helps her avoid foul trouble, the bane of any pressure-inducing guard.
“Her defensive footwork is spot on,” Wilson said. “She’s always moving her feet and because of that she rarely gets more than one or two fouls a game which is so rare for a defensive stopper. She has a great ability to anticipate where the ball is going.”
And that anticipation helps her swipe steals and either score, or find teammates for open buckets in transition.
Another transition has been in the Olympic League 1A Division win-loss column, where Port Townsend has gone from last place Meek’s freshman year (2-7, 2-17), to a league title this season (6-2, 8-10) and a first seed to the district tournament.
The Redhawks kicked Coupeville out of the top spot with two wins over the Wolves this season, as well as two league wins over Chimacum, including a 45-38 triumph that clinched the league championship on the Cowboys’ home court last Tuesday.
“We finally beat [Coupeville], so that was a confidence builder for Chimacum,” Meek said. “I would say Chimacum has the best defense in the league. They are always aggressive and they don’t seem to get tired they are always getting after you. Their freshman Mia [McNair] and Jada Trafton are really tough defenders who make it challenging for me.”
Meek attributed this season’s climb to the top of the league standings to an improved level of togetherness.
“I think we’ve really come together as team, trusting each other more, and its coming together on the court,” Meek said.
She mentioned summer camp trips to Ocean Shores and Western Washington University as helpful in that process, even if the beach sand made cooking complicated.
“We played five or seven games at Ocean Shores, and the team went to a camp at Western and played a bunch up there. That’s good for us because we had a lot of team time and that’s helped with our season now, we really have a relationship.
“The beach was fun, we had a bonfire and cooked hotdogs and hamburgers and flew kites. It was really windy and the sand got in all our food.”
And that good-time mentality has translated to the court.
“This year’s been really fun,” Meek said. “Winning is fun of course. But everybody is really helpful, everybody is supportive of each other when we have success. Usually the games when we have a hard time, we are arguing with each other. When we aren’t communicating in the right ways, that’s my job as point guard. I have to yell at them, but in a nice way of course. And do it fast because basketball is fast. I tell my teammates I might yell at you, but I don’t always mean it.”
Meek’s also gotten ample assistance from those teammates, particularly junior Jaz Apker-Montoya and sophomore post Izzy Hammett.
“They’ve helped me out a lot,” Meek said. “I can see them, I can always count on them. I know they can make it, I don’t have to be afraid to give up the ball.”
And Meek, with the help of Wilson, is looking out for the transition from high school to college with a goal of playing basketball at the next level.
“I can do rodeo for a much longer period of my life,” Meek said. “I’d like to play basketball in college and Scott is helping out with that.”
Meek, along with classmates Jordyn King, Taylor Tracer and Cece Nielsen, will be honored during senior night festivities at 7:15 p.m. Saturday before the Redhawks face Klahowya in their regular season finale.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]