PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles boys basketball team exorcised some demons in Tuesday night’s Olympic League game against Port Townsend.
Slow starts, free throw struggles and, most importantly, a couple of losing streaks, fell by the wayside as the Roughriders topped the Redskins 55-43.
Junior forward Colin Wheeler scored 16 points, hitting 5-of-6 field goal attempts, and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Riders in both categories.
Senior post Steve Rogers added 10 points and six rebounds while junior reserve Kylar Morgan was 4-of-4 from the field with nine points and six rebounds to help Port Angeles snap a five-game skid dating back to mid-December.
“We got a monkey off our back a little bit,” first-year Port Angeles coach Wes Armstrong said. “That was a tough December. It was a tough road for us, but I think we’ve turned the corner.
“Hopefully the guys can build upon this and get ready for Klahowya [on the road] on Friday and end the first half of the league season on a positive note.”
Port Angeles took care of business in the late stages of Tuesday night’s game, hitting 9-of-10 free throws in the final four minutes.
That included a 4-for-4 showing from point guard Antonio Stevenson, who finished with nine points and a game-high four assists.
As a result, Port Angeles (4-3 in league, 5-6 overall) closed out its first win against Port Townsend (2-6, 4-7) in five tries with little drama.
“We’ve been working on that every day in practice,” Armstrong said. “Port Townsend kept fighting, and then we always responded to the little runs.”
Port Townsend’s Eric Thomas followed up a couple of big scoring nights — the senior had 41 points in his last two games — with 12 points and five rebounds.
Cameron Robinson added 11 points while Evan O’Brien had eight points and four assists.
Yet Port Townsend found itself playing catch-up most of the game against the Riders.
Port Angeles began the game with a 6-0 run, then started the second half with a 9-0 spurt.
The latter, capped by a putback from Wheeler three minutes into the third quarter, gave Port Angeles a commanding 35-20 edge.
“It was mostly intensity,” Wheeler said of the team’s fast starts to both halves. “We’ve got to come out with a lot of intensity and focus [to win].
“It wasn’t our best game, but it’s just good to get that win.”
Port Townsend cut the lead to single digits three times in the fourth quarter, but Port Angeles was able to answer at the free throw line each time.
“Those two [runs] right there, that’s the difference in the game,” Port Townsend coach John Stroeder said. “It’s really tough [coming back from those], because we’re not very deep.
“But those guys hung in there. We had a chance, we were right there. Give credit to PA. [Armstrong] is doing a good job with those guys.”
Port Angeles out-rebounded Port Townsend 34-25 on the game, with 13 of the Riders’ boards coming on the offensive end.
The Riders sank 20-of-51 shots from the floor while the Redskins hit 17-of-52.
“I’m proud of my team’s effort,” Armstrong said. “Hats off to Port Townsend. We were in a dog fight tonight.”
Port Townsend has the rest of the week off to lick its wounds. The Redskins then begin a five-game home stand on Tuesday against second-place Kingston (5-2, 7-3).
“Look out whoever is coming to our house,” Stroeder said.
Port Angeles 55, Port Townsend 43
Port Townsend 12 8 8 15 — 43
Port Angeles 13 13 15 14 — 55
Port Townsend (43)
Thomas 12, Thielk 4, Robinson 11, O’Brien 8, DeBerry 2, Hallinan 6.
Port Angeles (55)
Williams 7, Stevenson 9, Morgan 9, Ward 4, Wheeler 16, Rogers 10.
Girls Basketball Port Angeles 68, Port Townsend 32
PORT ANGELES — The Riders (7-0, 9-2) keep making it harder and harder for the rest of the state to ignore them.
Port Angeles won its fourth straight game going away on Tuesday night against the Redskins, extending a streak that’s also seen it knock off 3A powers Ferndale and Bainbridge in recent weeks.
Whether or not that will put it in the state rankings for the first time today remains to be seen. Port Angeles coach Mike Knowles prefers the anonymity.
“I like being the dark horse going in,” Knowles said. “We just need to do our job every night. And each night we play, we need to play better and harder.
“[Then] when it comes down to district play, hopefully we’re ready to play at that level and get ourselves into the next level.
“I told the girls, ‘Don’t worry about down the road, worry about right now.'”
The Riders were pretty focused on the present Tuesday night.
Junior Jessica Madison poured in 26 points, including five 3-pointers, Skylar Jones had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Alison Knowles added eight points, eight assists and five steals for a Port Angeles team that jumped out to a 24-6 first quarter lead and never looked back.
Port Townsend’s Kerri Evalt had 10 points to lead the Redskins, who were coming of a 32-20 loss to archrival Chimacum on Monday.
“Believe it or not I thought we actually played OK,” Port Townsend coach Randy Maag said. “We’ve really had a hard time shooting, so at least we put a few points on the board and the girls competed. If we would have scored that many points last night, we would have won.
“We were just overmatched [against Port Angeles].”
Port Townsend turned the ball over 34 times against the Riders’ pressure defense, while Port Angeles had just 12 giveaways.
“I think Port Angeles is actually better than they were last year,” Maag said. “They seem to get along as a team. They play with a little better energy.
“To me that looks like a team, where last year they looked more divided. I was impressed. They would be unstoppable with Emily [Cook].”
Port Angeles 68, Port Townsend 32
Port Townsend 6 13 5 8 — 32
Port Angeles 24 15 20 9 — 68
Port Townsend (32)
Jesionowski 2, Evalt 10, Russell 5, Dowdle 3, Little 6, Fox 2, Maag 2, Phillips 2.
Port Angeles (68)Madison 26, K. Jones 6, Stevenson 2, Knowles 8, S. Jones 13, Frazier 4, Jeffers 4, Cox 5.