SEQUIM — Leave it to a player named Jolene to steal the game, snap a number of streaks and leave a string of broken hearts in her wake.
Sequim’s Jolene Vaara scored 21 of her game-high 31 points in the second half, including an old-fashioned 3-point play with 2:05 to play that tied the game at 53-all and swayed momentum in the Wolves’ favor on the way to a 60-55 win over rival Port Angeles.
“She’s a special kid,” Wolves coach Joclin Julmist said. “I tell her she can be the best player in the league if she wants to be.”
Vaara added eight steals and four rebounds as Sequim rallied from a 48-40 deficit early in the fourth quarter to earn its first win over its rival since Jan. 9, 2015, a span of 14 games.
“We are all so happy about it,” Vaara said of snapping that streak. “We want to keep it going, get our own winning streak going. We really wanted to get that win.”
Vaara entered the game with a defensive mindset and a big task on her hands.
“I was mainly supposed to try to completely shut down their best player Eve Burke because she has been killing it every game this season,” Vaara said. “Get down in the post and jump out if she moves.
“I was watching [Port Angeles players] eyes and trying to find them. Towards the end, they were getting a little more frustrated and we could see more of what they were looking for. We fed off of that really well.”
The win preserved Sequim’s (7-0, 8-1) perfect league record and hold on the top spot in the Olympic League while simultaneously ending the Roughriders’ 31-game Olympic League winning streak which dated back to Jan. 18, 2019, and included three straight league titles.
“We’re fine,” Riders coach Michael Poindexter said. “The kids are hurt and upset with themselves. But they worked hard, there was no lack of effort, it was a lack of execution. And we will continue to hammer on that in practice and continue to get better.”
The weight of the rivalry and the winning streaks may have contributed to a metaphorical weight on the shoulders of Port Angeles players.
“The basic skills of attacking defensive pressure, if you ask our kids what we should do if A or B happens, they’ll tell you,” Poindexter said. “When you get out on the court, it’s easier said than done when you want to win a game so badly and it means so much. And you see it start with missed shots or a few turnovers and it’s ‘Uh, oh.’
“We were trying to relax them all game.”
Vaara did get some help as teammate Taryn Johnson added 10 points, including the go-ahead layup with 1:50 to play.
Hannah Wagner also contributed on both ends of the floor, leading Sequim in rebounding with nine while adding eight points, including two 3-point baskets.
“She really played well for us defensively,” Sequim coach Joclin Julmist said.
Wagner, also a member of the Wolves’ soccer team, was thrilled to earn a rivalry win over Port Angeles in her last year of competition.
“[The win] is amazing, especially [my] senior year,” she said.
Julmist was pleased with his team’s ability to play through mistakes and keep focused.
“When we play the way we can play, we can compete with anybody,” Julmist said. “We have a really good solid group of players and defensively on that side we are just as good as anybody.”
Sequim is scheduled to visit Bainbridge tonight while Port Angeles (5-1, 5-4) is scheduled to visit North Kitsap on Monday.
The Wolves-Riders rematch is slated Feb. 3 at Port Angeles.
Sequim 60, Port Angeles 55
PA 15 16 15 10 — 55
Seq. 14 14 12 20 — 60
Port Angeles (55) — Burke 16, Petty 9, Larson 9, Smith 8, Gedelman 4, Mason 4, McGoff 3, Sprague 2, Williams, Felton.
Sequim (60) — Vaara 31, Johnson 10, Wagner 8, Bates 5, Julmist 4, Smith 2.
Neah Bay 90, Clallam Bay 5
CLALLAM BAY — The Neah Bay girls basketball team (2-0) got six 3-pointers and 27 points from Allie Greene in beating Clallam Bay 90-5.
Ocean Aguirre scored 21 for the Red Devils, while Ryana Moss had 12, Cerise Moss nine and Amber Swan eight. Ryana Moss led the team in rebounds with seven.
Boys basketball Neah Bay 86, Clallam Bay 22
CLALLAM BAY — The Neah Bay boys basketball team had five players with nine or more points in an 86-22 win over Clallam Bay.
Julian Carrick led the Red Devils with 16 points, while Jaden Halttunen had 15 and Jodell Wimberley had 13 points and nine rebounds. Makyah Chambers and Benjamin Della each scored nine points.
Neah Bay (2-2) has had trouble getting games in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is scheduled to next play against Chief Kitsap at home at 5:45 p.m. Friday.