For three quarters, Sequim had its rival on the proverbial ropes on prep basketball’s biggest stage.
But Port Angeles’ Roughriders, as they had twice this season, had the answers in the end, predominantly in the form of sophomore forward Madison Cooke.
The Olympic League MVP scored 14 points in a decisive fourth quarter to top the Wolves 57-47 and knock Sequim from the class 2A state tournament in Yakima on Feb. 27, ending the Wolves’ season and keeping them from the first school’s state girls basketball tourney victory.
“It was a great game, a fun game,” Wolves coach Linsay Rapelje said. “I am proud of them for the whole season. They always worked hard.”
Sequim, led by sophomore Jayla Julmist’s 19 points and 19 rebounds, kept pace with the Riders in the first half, holding leads of 14-13 after one quarter and, after freshman Riley Pyeatt sank a shot just before the buzzer, a 20-19 lead at halftime.
But the Roughriders, who struggled from the field for most of the game (20-of-62, 32 percent) kept the Wolves from building a bigger lead than an 18-13 advantage midway through the second quarter.
“I think we played a little cautious,” Sequim assistant coach Sven Wiker said.
“In the second quarter we got in foul trouble and Hope (Glasser) has to come out (so we were) only getting partial production,” he said. “That’s the quarter we’d like back, (besides the) fourth.”
After abandoning a full-court he’d utilized against the Wolves in two previous match-ups this season (both victories), Port Angeles coach Mike Poindexter brought more pressure in the second half and it paid off, although Sequim still held a 36-35 lead after three quarters.
In the fourth, Cooke took over. The second-year player opened the quarter with a pair of 3-pointers, then sparked a key defensive play with a steal at mid-court that teammate Emilia Long tracked down. Long saved the ball from going out of bounds to Cooke, who flipped a pass to Mikkiah Brady for a basket.
“I didn’t want to lose that game, so I gave it all (I had),” Long said. “It was awesome that Mikkiah made the shot to make it even more of a big play.”
“The play where Madi saved it on the sideline, and Millie saved it on the baseline was the best play I’ve seen from our team in Yakima, or even in eight years of postseason,” Poindexter said.
The small lead Sequim clung to was gone, and despite baskets by Julmist and Bobbi Sparks late to closed the gap to 46-41, Cooke again took over with six consecutive points.
“Madison Cooke … can take over a game and the others rally around her,” Wiker said.
By game’s end, Port Angeles forced 18 Sequim turnovers and committed just seven themselves. The Riders made up for struggling from the field with 22 offensive rebounds.
“They basically, in the last quarter, said, ‘We’re not going to lose’,” Wiker said of Port Angeles. “(But) we’re closing the gap on them.
“Mentally, I think the girls thought they could beat (Port Angeles).”
Port Angeles kept Glasser and Sequim sharpshooter Kalli Wiker in check, holding Glasser, an all-Olympic League first team forward, to two points — about 10 off her season average — and four rebounds, as she struggled with foul trouble.
The Riders held Wiker, the team’s top long-range shooter and an all-league second team selection, to just two 3-point tries (both missed) in 16 minutes.
“They had (Kalli) locked down,” Sven Wiker said.
“I want to especially compliment Eve Burke and Mikkiah Brady on their defense,” Poindexter said. “They were mostly responsible for defending Hope and Kalli.”
Sequim soph Melissa Porter had nine points.
Cooke finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
Long had 10 points and five steals, while Eve Burke added 10 points.
Julmist, an all-Olympic League first-teamer, shot 9-of-17 from the field and had three blocks.
“Jayla, this is what she is capable of and more,” Rapelje said.
“Those kids were fired up,” Poindexter said of Sequim. “Jayla Julmist played her heart out; what an impressive performance. We tried (to defend her). We were trying to avoid getting into foul trouble on her, we did not want to get in foul trouble and send her to the line. We wanted to play behind and get rebounds and she scored over us. She got assists and she still got rebounds. That’s no knock on our kids.”
Sven Wiker said it was a relative no-brainer to keep Julmist in for the game’s entirety.
“You’ve got to play her; she’s got to be in,” he said.
“She was hard to guard. Her post moves were great,” Port Angeles’ Long said. “And if she missed, she’d get it back and put it right up.”
Wiker also had high praise for Bobbi Sparks, the Wolves’ lone senior who finished the game with seven points in 17 minutes after hitting some big shots to get Sequim to state in a regional game against Foster on Feb. 22.