Port Angeles’ Izzy Felton, front, looks for the layup as Forks’ Bailey Johnson defends the lane on Tuesday night in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles’ Izzy Felton, front, looks for the layup as Forks’ Bailey Johnson defends the lane on Tuesday night in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL: Port Angeles girls clamp down in fourth quarter

Riders blow open tight game to beat Forks 56-38

PORT ANGELES — In a battle between two tough teams that both went to state tournaments last year, the Port Angeles girls basketball team buckled down on defense and rode a 20-7 fourth quarter to pull away from Forks in a 56-38 season-opening victory.

The final score was misleading as the game was tight most of the contest with a tie score at halftime and Forks holding a four-point lead in the third quarter. The Spartans were down just 39-33 early in the fourth quarter.

These were two young teams last year, with the Roughriders making it to the 2A state tournament and Forks making it to the 2B state tourney. Both teams bring back a lot of more experienced players from those squads.

Forks’ Chloe Gaydeski, front, battles for the ball with Port Angeles’ Paige Mason during Tueday’s game at Port Angeles High School. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Forks’ Chloe Gaydeski, front, battles for the ball with Port Angeles’ Paige Mason during Tueday’s game at Port Angeles High School. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles coach Michael Poindexter said his players seemed tentative and nervous early, missing a lot of shots and scoring just 17 points in the first half. The Roughriders also had a lot of foul trouble with four starters carrying four fouls at the end of the third quarter. Only one fouled out.

“You always expect first-game jitters, but I haven’t seen that many missed shots in practice,” Poindexter said. “What we saw in the fourth quarter is more what we’re used to seeing.”

Forks coach David Hurn said he was proud of his team “for coming in here and competing with a team like that for three quarters.

“We have a lot of respect for this program. We’re trying to be one of these teams,” Hurn said. “We played a strong three quarters, but our youth and [lack of] depth showed up in the fourth. It’s still early in the season.”

Hurn said Port Angeles’ length and defense gave the Spartans trouble in the fourth. “We needed to shorten up our passes. That’s one of the best teams we’ll play for a while.”

The Riders were led by Lindsay Smith’s 20 points, including 14 in the second half. She added 11 rebounds.

“It was a little stressful. That game felt a lot closer than the score,” she said.

Smith played effectively with her sister Lexie Smith as they assisted each other on several of their baskets. Lexie finished with nine points and five assists, most of those to Lindsay.

Forks’ Bailey Johnson, right, drives along the baseline as teammate Fynlie Peters, left, defends against Port Angeles’ Morgan Politika on Tuesday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Forks’ Bailey Johnson, right, drives along the baseline as teammate Fynlie Peters, left, defends against Port Angeles’ Morgan Politika on Tuesday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

“We always know where to find each other on the court,” Lindsay Smith said.

Lexie Smith had a great all-around game with four steals, five rebounds and three blocks, including blocks on back-to-back Forks possessions.

Forks was led by Keira Johnson’s 16. Poindexter was happy that the Riders were able to limit her to 16 after she scored 31 against Crescent in the Spartans’ season opener.

“She would do well in our league,” Poindexter said.

Forks gained control of the game early in the second half with Port Angeles starter Paige Mason carrying three fouls and Lexie Smith on the bench with four fouls.

Chloe Gaydeski hit a pair of big 3-pointers from the same spot along the baseline to give the Spartans a 23-19 lead early in the third quarter. Gaydeski finished with nine points.

“That was big,” Hurn said. “We needed someone to step up.”

While the Spartans had all the momentum at that point, the Riders responded with a 3-pointer from Izzy Felton a few minutes later to take a 29-26 lead that Port Angeles never surrendered. After Gaydeski’s 3-pointers, Port Angeles outscored forks 37-15 the rest of the game.

Poindexter said his team will have to do a better job adjusting to tightly called games. Port Angeles was called for eight fouls just in the first quarter.

“That was a very tightly officiated game. We’re not used to that. We need to do a better job of adjusting to that. That’s on us,” he said.

Teanna Clark on her birthday chipped in nine points, six steals and four assists for the Riders.

Port Angeles (1-0) next travels to Chehalis to play WF West at 3 p.m. Saturday. Forks (1-1) will play at 7 p.m. Saturday at Rainier.

Port Angeles 56, Forks 38

Forks 7 10 14 7 — 38

PA 7 10 19 20 — 56

Port Angeles (56) — Lindsay Smith 20, Lexie Smith 9, Clark 9, Mason 6, Felton 5, Politika 4, Rognlien 2, Manson 1.

Forks (38) — K. Johnson 16, Gaydeski 9, B. Johnson 6, Peters 3, Dilley 2, Neel 2.

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS Forks’ Avery Dilley, right, pulls down a rebound ahead of Port Angeles’ Becca Manson on Tuesday in Port Angeles.

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS Forks’ Avery Dilley, right, pulls down a rebound ahead of Port Angeles’ Becca Manson on Tuesday in Port Angeles.

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