POULSBO — It’s that time of year again. Just when you think the Olympic League 2A girls basketball teams have settled into their respective playoff spots upheaval hits.
The Port Angeles Roughriders pulled out a 54-48 win over North Kitsap, denying the Vikings the OL championship outright on Tuesday and handing them their first loss of the league season. North and Port Angeles are both 10-1 with one game left each.
The Vikings face Sequim on Thursday and Port Angeles hosts Olympic. If North and PA win there will be a tiebreaker at a neutral site Saturday, likely at Kingston or Bainbridge. A loss by either North or Port Angeles and it would give the other team the championship with no need for a tiebreaker.
North Kitsap coach Penny Gienger said PA’s defense did its job against the Vikings’ potent offense.
“They’re quick, they’re good, they’re athletic,” Gienger said of PA. “We were in the game the whole way. It’s not like we got our asses kicked. It was a good game. That was just one game.
“They beat us in the fourth quarter. We were tired. He’s running four out, four in, and he has some great athletes. I just don’t have the depth (PA) has. In the fourth quarter it (took) it’s toll.”
Port Angeles coach Mike Poindexter said his main objective for 32 minutes was for the Roughriders to get back on defense. In their last meeting, North Kitsap had its way against the Riders in Port Angeles in terms of field goals.
“We had four different defenses we ran tonight,” Poindexter said with the 2-3 zone being the most effective. “We rebounded well and we got out on (their) shooters pretty well. I just thought we kept our composure. We weren’t hitting (a lot) of shots, but we were hanging around.
“I think we were less tired than they were at the end.”
North took the early lead, thanks in part to a Raelee Moore 3-pointer that gave the Vikings an 11-4 lead and a 20-15 lead at the end of the first.
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Port Angeles stuck around long enough to trail 32-30 at halftime. The Roughriders came out strong in the third as Emilia Long forced a turnover, but missed the layup on the other end. Her miss was followed by teammate Madison Cooke who was trailing the play and converted the putback for a 34-33 lead — PA’s first of the second half.
Erin Pearson gave the Vikings a 43-39 lead in the fourth quarter when she was left alone for an easy layup under the basket. Moore increased the lead to 44-39 on 1-of-2 shooting from the free-throw line. Port Angeles’ defense then went on a stretch of denial against the Vikings and the Roughriders converted their chances on the other end to tie the game at 44-44.
Devin Edwards’ layup for Port Angeles gave the Riders a 46-44 lead, but it was followed by an Olivia Selembo timely 3-pointer to take the lead back 47-46 North. Cooke answered immediately with a 3 of her own as the lead went back to the Riders, 49-47. Another 3-pointer for PA, this time by Gracie Long, made it 52-47 as the clock ticked away with 2:07 left.
A free throw by Noey Barreith made it 52-48, but that would be it for the Vikings as Port Angeles capitalized on its strong defensive effort.
“They had great defense tonight,” Moore said of the Roughriders. “We had miscommunications sometimes with our offense. Some of us ran one offense and some of us ran another and that kind of got us all flustered.”
Moore said the focus now is on Sequim and not a potential tiebreaker for the league championship on Saturday.
“We need to change our mindset,” she said. “We need to come together as a team.”