The Sequim’s boys basketball team was riding a two-game winning streak into their Jan. 18 rivalry clash with the Port Angeles Roughriders — rescheduled from earlier in the week, thanks to snow — but couldn’t maintain that momentum before being handed a crushing loss.
Riding the high of a dramatic 48-43 comeback win over the Kingston Buccaneers the night before, the Wolves grabbed an early lead over the Roughriders before back-to-back 3-pointers from Chase Cobb in the first quarter put the Riders ahead for good for a 63-32 win over the Wolves.
After Port Angeles took the lead, they started applying tough defensive pressure and limiting the Wolves’ chances to get inside. The Riders’ effectiveness at grabbing offensive rebounds earned second-chance scoring opportunities they needed on a night when they weren’t regularly hitting shots they wanted.
Down 32-13 at halftime, the Wolves “won” the third quarter by outscoring the Riders 12-11 in the frame, but it little consolation after the game.
“Their ball pressure was really good,” Wolves head coach Greg Glasser said. “And they were dominant inside as well. We were playing with a couple freshmen (Isaiah Moore and Cole Smithson) and (Port Angeles) are so big inside that we couldn’t keep their big guys away from the hoop.”
Glasser also regretted the lack of help point guard Dallin Despain received on the night. Despain didn’t score, but played his usual tough defense with two steals and a block, as well as being the main reason PA’s shooters were having issues getting their shots off cleanly from the perimeter.
On the offensive end, however, Despain was under constant pressure from the Riders’ defense, and Glasser noted that Despain’s teammates too often didn’t do enough to clear space or make themselves available for outlet passes.
Erik Christiansen lead the Wolves in scoring on the night with 18 points on seven-of-20 shooting, and led the team with six rebounds as well.
Hayden Eaton, Moore and Smithson were the only other Wolves who scored on the night, with seven, four and three points, respectively.
The Wolves had found themselves down at halftime the night before as well against Kingston, but mounted an impressive comeback en route to their 48-43 win that they pulled out in the final minutes on Jan. 17.
Despain tied the game with a 3-pointer with just over a minute to go, then Moore pulled in a loose ball and fed the ball to Christiansen, who made his bucket and got fouled to create a three-point play that he finished by making his free throw to put the Wolves up by three.
A turnover on the next possession helped the Wolves secure the win in the final moments.
“We just kept chipping away at it,” Glasser said of the Wolves’ comeback. “Our guys stayed tough, played great defense and just kept working at it.”
The game also saw the on-court return of guard Michael Young, who had missed the entire season with a knee injury sustained near the end of the Wolves’ football season in the fall. He had a key block of a 3-point shot that set up Christiansen’s winner, then turned around and played 24 minutes the next night against Port Angeles.
“(Young) gives us a guy with strength on the court,” Glasser said. “He’s been there every practice and even when he couldn’t run, he was studying and learning. He’s one of the smartest players I’ve had, so when he got back on the court it was like he’d never been gone.”
The Wolves are set to host the North Mason Bulldogs on at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 22 before heading on the road to face the Bremerton Knights on Jan. 24. They then get a week off before hosting the North Kitsap Vikings on Jan. 31 for their last home game of the regular season.
Sequim is on the road on Feb. 4 to face the Olympic Trojans before finishing the regular season on Feb. 6 against Port Angeles.
If the Wolves qualify for the post-season, they’ll be set to play in a district qualifying tournament with the South Puget Sound League on Feb. 6. The West Central District 3 tournament is set to begin Feb. 13.