PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles senior post Devin Edwards and her younger brother, Garrett Edwards, have grown into complete players while filling similar roles for their respective Port Angeles girls and boys basketball teams.
The pair are tasked with doing much of the dirty work in crowded conditions, rebounding, scoring inside and playing stiff defense, be it on-ball or in zone looks.
Six-footer Devin starts at center for Port Angeles, routinely leading the team in rebounding, blocking shots and sharing time in the post in an interchangeable and successful arrangement with reserve Aeverie Politika.
The Rider girls (18-3) secured a bye in the first-round of the district tournament with a one-game playoff win over North Kitsap last Saturday after splitting the Olympic League 2A Division title with the Vikings, and will host Foster (14-6) tonight at 7 with a chance to seal a spot in the state regional round of 16 and also advance to the district semifinals.
“We kind of look at Devin’s growth from a four-year perspective,” Port Angeles coach Michael Poindexter said. “She came to us as a freshman on the JV, had an ankle injury her sophomore year that kept her off the court for a while, so she made varsity with a season and a half of experience.
“Some players would look at that like, ‘Oh, I’m just biding my time on JV, Oh, I really should be on varsity.’ But Devin really took that seriously as a time to get better as a player, listening to coach [Jennifer] Rogers and soaking up all she could about how to play the post.”
A volleyball player and a thrower in the discus, javelin and shot put for the Riders’ track team, Edwards provides “all-around athleticism,” Poindexter said.
“She brings that speed, that strength, that jumping ability into our game. That all-around athleticism has helped her. This year, her and Aeverie have done well in kind of getting out of [Rider grad] Nizhoni’s [Wheeler] shadow, coming into their own with confident play. They each get about 14 to 18 minutes and they’ve become a really nice post duo, and supportive of each other.
“As a defender, she’s really embraced the middle of that 1-3-1 [zone]. She plays it a little differently than Nizhoni, she gets out and is a little more aggressive and you can see it in her deflections and steals.
One positive for Edwards is the absence of a negative — foul trouble. For all the work she does down low in scrapping for rebounds and offensive opportunities for her team, Edwards plays a clean game.
“One admirable thing — it’s a lack of something — but she has stayed out of foul trouble, she has not fouled out of a game,” Poindexter said.
Poindexter then double-checks that fact with Devin during a recent practice.
“She likes that, you can see her smile,” Poindexter said. “She likes contact, she likes to mix it up, but she’s really stayed disciplined and I’ve appreciated that. She’s an incredibly supportive teammate and she demands a lot out of herself but isn’t selfish. She’s been a huge rebounder, not just the numbers, but on the offensive glass. And she and Aeverie can both hit the three and you have to guard them outside the post. She’s really grown her game into a complete player.”
Devin said she’s seen her game improve as she reaches the goals she sets for herself.
“At the end of the season I’ve been getting more than 10 rebounds most games, scoring more on the inside and my defense has improved,” she said.
[Coming into the season] I wanted to work on scoring more 0n the inside, because Nizhoni was very good at that, I wanted to keep that going. And her defense was really good too, so I needed to work on that.”
She said the team’s focus on playing with positivity and drowning out negative thoughts has helped her and her team.
“A positive mindset can make you play better,” Edwards said I think it’s helped our whole team because some of us get down on ourselves easily if we make a mistake and it tends to reflect on the way we play. After we had that talk about having a positive mindset I think our team has embraced that mentality. We’ve all been more positive and played better together.
“If we have a bad game, we tell ourselves we need to get the energy up, before a game we all get in a huddle in the locker room and tell ourselves what we need to work on, and we all want to be positive and have a great mindset because it reflects on the way we play.”
Edwards showed her ability to make up for a mistake after turning the ball over in a recent game with Kingston. On the ensuing inbound play, Edwards defended her opponent well away from the basket, swatting a Buccaneer shot back to halfcourt and sending the implied message that there would be no Kingston comeback in a 55-33 Port Angeles win.
“I remember blocking it,” Edwards said. “I get really hard on myself if I make a mistake and I try to come back after and do something to make up for it. Not really angry, more like mad at myself and a little frustrated and it will go away because I know won’t do that again and I know I can do better.”
Her younger brother said he’s seen big sister improve
“She’s gotten more aggressive, she’s not timid,” Garrett said. “She takes her shots and she likes playing the game.”
Six-foot-3 inch Garrett is the second-leading scorer and a fierce rebounder on the Rider boys, who opened Class 2A West Central District Tournament play on the road last night against Highline (late).
“When he’s on the court our guys are more confident,” Port Angeles boys coach Kasey Ulin said.
“Garrett brings physicality. He’s fearless and he will give you everything he has every single night. He’s got a nice little inside-outside game. He can shoot from outside a little bit, he can put it on the deck, drive the ball and score it. A good defender, he can guard multiple positions, he rebounds. He plays his butt off every single night. Whatever he has, he will give it to you.”
Ulind said his teammates feed off his play.
“He doesn’t talk, he’s not a vocal leader, but he leads by his actions,” Ulin said. “If anybody gets knocked down, Garrett will have your back. That big brother type that you want to have on the team when you go to battle and he’s that guy for us.
You can tell guys are more confident when he’s on the court. He will set screens, he won’t back down from anybody, he won’t be intimidated.
“I can put him on Payton [Glasser of Sequim], and tell him make Payton work for everything.
“There’s been times when he’s led us in scoring, led us in rebounding, he’s come a long way in the last year. He just has a bigger role and is taking advantage of more playing time. He does a great job in tough moments of making plays.”
Edwards enjoyed terriffic games in the Riders’ rivalry wins over Sequim, scoring 21 and holding Glasser down in a 75-45 win at home in December and putting in 17 in a 59-52 win last month.
Big sister Devin said Garrett’s post moves stand out.
“He scores inside so well, he has really good post work with his moves inside,” Devin said.
Ulin said Garrett will be even more of a menace in his senior season.
“The growth will be scary next year,” Ulin said. “He puts so much time in the offseason and he’s coachable. He’s a special athlete and the sky is the limit for him. I know he wants to play at the next level, and I wouldn’t put it past him.”
Poindexter also said Devin could turn up on a basketball roster next season.
“And if she chooses to, or wants to, and if we find the right fit for her, I think she can play beyond high school at the two-year level,” he said. “I think her ceiling is really high, she is very coachable, really wants to learn and can develop her repertoire with inside moves.
“I think she has a lot of growth left.”
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]