For a half, Sequim had their revenge against their rival Port Angeles — and a rather forgettable blowout loss 23 days prior.
But Port Angeles wasn’t about to let a little thing like a rivalry get in the way of a share of a league championship.
Kyle Benedict led a balanced Roughrider attack with 14 points, Payton Schmidt had 12 and Liam Clark added 10 as PA locked up a share of the Olympic League title (with North Kitsap) and fended off an upset-minded Sequim squad.
The Wolves, who finished 7-5 in league play and 12-8 overall, were already locked into the league’s No. 3 seed to districts (see box).
Sequim didn’t need a lot of motivation last week against the Riders, however — after losing to Port Angeles by 45 points (74-29) on Jan. 8 and hosting Senior Night for their seven 12th-graders.
Sequim came out strong, battling to a 10-10 tie after one quarter and creeping ahead on a flurry of Nate Despain baskets to take a 27-19 lead backed by a raucous home crowd.
“(Despain) was killing us in that first half,” Clark said.
But Port Angeles came out of halftime with a sense of urgency, and after Sequim guard Kyler Rollness’ 3-pointer to open the third quarter, the Riders went on a 27-9 run.
Said Port Angeles coach Kasey Ulin, “We challenged them at halftime. We talked about adversity and being resilient. For the first two quarters, we were timid and passive.”
Despain finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Rollness had 13 points, hitting four 3-pointers. But the Wolves couldn’t find the right combination in the second half, getting out-scored 44-21 over the final 16 minutes.
Michael Young and Keeshawn Whitney had six points each. Riley Cowan added five rebounds and a pair of steals.
Sequim had 22 turnovers.
Port Angeles shot 51 percent from field earned 24 trips to the free throw line, hitting just nine (38 percent).
“I give Sequim a ton of credit: they were pursuing the ball and played with a sense of urgency,” Ulin said. “They don’t just hand out league championships.”
Topping the Trojans
Undersized and down at halftime, Sequim’s Wolves dug deep for a key win against a league foe.
Nate Despain led all scorers with 25 points — including a basket and pair of free throws in the final minute — to lead Sequim to a 51-47 victory over Olympic on Jan. 29.
The win secured for Sequim the league’s No. 3 seed to districts that start on Feb. 6 and bumps Olympic to the fourth seed.
“They’re well-coached and had us guessing at times,” Sequim coach Greg Glasser said. “Nate and Riley (Cowan) were able to step up.”
The 6-foot 2-inch Cowan, for much of the second half the only Wolf taller than 6 feet, helped to contain Trojan big men Caleb Morgan (6-6) and Greg Brehmer (6-3), with help from Despain and a rotation of guards Rollness, Dallin Despain, Michael Young, Rigo Langston and Erik Christiansen, as Sequim recovered from Olympic’s 33-27 halftime lead.
“We talked about (making) sure we got bodies on those guys; they help out so well,” Glasser said.
“If we’re going to be small, that’s who we are … and we’re OK with that,” he said.
After a back-and-forth first quarter and second frame that saw Olympic start to pull away, Glasser went with a smaller lineup that sacrificed a big of length for quickness, and it paid off. Tied 44-44 with 2:36 on the clock, Christiansen grabbed a steal and breakaway layup that put Sequim ahead for good.
Olympic’s Morgan, who had 10 points and 14 rebounds, missed the first of a pair of fourth quarter 3-pointers, and Nate Despain had a layup to push Sequim’s lead to 48-44.
Olympic guard Brandon Barron scored on a free throw and layup to trim Sequim’s lead to 48-47, but Nate Despain hit a pair of free throws, and a Barron 3-point try rimmed out. Young added a free throw to cap the win.
Christiansen and Cowan had three steals each while Young led the team with six rebounds.
Christiansen, Rollness and Nate Despain had three assists each.
Nate Despain was 9-of-18 from the field and had three 3-pointers; he also had eight deflections on defense.
Barron led Olympic with 15 points.
The Trojans out-rebounded Sequim 27-19, but the Wolves had 13 steals to Olympic’s five.
Pierre LaBossiere, Peninsula Daily News Sports Editor, contributed to this report.