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Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles boys basketball team’s postseason ambitions took another hit Tuesday night when it fell to North Kitsap 80-66.
In fact, it might have been the knockout blow, as the Roughriders now sit four games behind the fourth and fifth place Vikings and Kingston Buccaneers with four games left.
Only the top five seeds advance to the district tournament, and North Kitsap and Kingston both swept the season series with Port Angeles.
“I’m not real sure numerically, in terms of where we’re at exactly,” first-year Riders coach Brent Stephens said.
“If this wasn’t must-win, it might as well have been.”
Missing out on the postseason doesn’t equal failure for Port Angeles, though, as it entered the season with only senior post Marshall Elliott having significant prior varsity experience.
The Riders’ inexperience was on display Tuesday night as they struggled to both break North Kitsap’s full-court press and use their press to slow the Vikings.
“Their ability to break our press and not turn the ball over was beneficial to them,” Stephens said.
“We broke down in ways that weren’t beneficial to us. We gave up that open lane going to the bucket way too often. We’ve got to do a better job of pushing that down the sideline.
“We did not shoot the ball particularly well. Part of that was our reads. We did not make good reads today, in terms of who’s open, who’s in the best position to get us to the next stage of the offense.”
But Port Angeles’ potentially bright future also showed in flashes throughout the game.
For instance, sophomore Hunter Hathaway, who started the season on the JV team, led the team with 16 points.
“Hunter’s effort is always there. He’s always seeking the ball,” Stephens said.
“He has the ability to be special player. I think that he’s a diamond in the rough right now, and he has the ability to be special if he wants to be.”
If nothing else, Port Angeles (2-10, 3-13) showed it wasn’t going to roll over.
The Riders continuously fought their way back into the game after falling behind by sizable margins.
North Kitsap (6-4, 7-7) took a quick 14-1 lead at the start of the game, but Port Angeles responded with a 12-2 run to cut the lead to 16-13 and only trailed by four at the end of the period when Garrett Payton swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
This back-and-forth continued throughout most of the game.
Twice in the fourth quarter, the Riders closed within two points, but both times North Kitsap guard Ethan Graeber made a bucket to keep Port Angeles at bay.
“We’re just worried about working hard and trying to compete every game,” Stephens said.
Elliott finished with 14 points for the Riders. Juniors Derek Schumacher and Brady Konopaski contributed eight and seven points, respectively.
North Kitsap’s Kendal Gill led all scorers with 25 points.
North Kitsap 80, Port Angeles 66
North Kitsap 20 18 22 20— 80
Port Angeles 16 17 18 15— 66
North Kitsap (80)
Graebner 16, Lindsey 13, Hill 4, Roberts 2, Perry 2, Gill 25, Felix 9, Urquhart 1, Lemmon 6.
Port Angeles (66)
Konopaski 7, Gunderson 5, Isett 5, Treider 5, Hathaway 16, Payton 6, Elliott 14, Schumacher 8.