Sequim erased some long-simmering frustrations on Jan. 10, holding off a spirited second-half comeback from rival Port Angeles to earn a 40-36 Olympic League girls basketball win over the Roughriders.
It was the Wolves’ first win in the Roughriders’ gym in nearly three decades.
“We have been coming here for so many years and not coming home happy,” SHS junior forward Jolene Vaara said. “We are pretty pumped to win and to get to bring it back to our town, so I think we are really proud of that.”
Vaara paced the Wolves with 15 points and 10 of Sequim’s 25 steals.
The Wolves overcame early foul trouble on Vaara and senior Jelissa Julmist, a rough patch on both ends of the floor during Port Angeles’ third-quarter comeback from 10 points down.
Sequim overcame continued coldness from the free-throw line down the stretch to earn the win and remain undefeated.
“It was a [tough] game, back and forth,” Sequim coach Joclin Julmist said. “We struggled tonight with our shooting, but the girls figured out a way to get the win.”
The Wolves finished just 15-of-51 (29 percent) from the field and 6-of-19 (32 percent) from the free throw line.
Port Angeles started slow, turning the ball over 13 times while scoring just 11 points in the first half, but only trailed Sequim 18-11 at the break.
The Wolves pushed the lead to double digits before the Riders stormed back with some determined drives by Anna Petty and Paige Mason and a Petty 3-point basket.
Lexie Smith stepped outside for a corner 3-pointer and tied the game up at 27-all entering the fourth quarter with a bucket inside.
Julmist picked up her fourth foul early in the final frame and Vaara soon was saddled with her fourth.
The Wolves, however, shook off some poor shots and turnovers and hit a couple of huge 3-point shots to answer Port Angeles.
PA’s Piper Williams hit a baseline a layup to pull the Riders ahead 29-28, but Taryn Johnson answered with a 3-pointer on the other end as the lead changed hands.
Petty brought Port Angeles back within one, moving around a Williams screen to nail a left-side 3 to trail Sequim 33-32 with 2:56 to play.
Vaara came right back, draining a triple from the left corner to put the Wolves up four, 36-32 with 2:40 to play.
Port Angeles came within four in the final 20 seconds on a Williams’ 3-point shot, but couldn’t get the ball back.
“I could see it with everyone; we would do anything to win that game,” Vaara said.
“It means we can win anywhere, here, or at home. We also know we have a lot to work on.”
Vaara’s game, which included six rebounds and a block, wasn’t lost on her coach.
“Jolene was special on the defensive side tonight,” Joclin Julmist said.
Vaara and Hannah Bates each had four assists. Libby Turella had five steals and two blocks, and Sammie Bacon chipped in five rebounds.
Jelissa Julmist, who had 13 points, avoided picking up her fifth foul until late in the ball game.
“It does feels good to win it senior year, we don’t have to come back here again,” she said.
“She worked hard on both sides [of the court],” Joclin Julmist said of Jelissa.
Wolves surge late, edge Spartans
A slew of injuries and illnesses nearly put a dent in Sequim’s unblemished record.
A series of clutch steals and some tough defense, however, kept the Wolves undefeated with a 38-31 home win over the 3A Bainbridge Spartans on Jan. 12.
The Wolves improved to 8-0 in Olympic League play and 12-0 overall heading into their Jan. 17 road game at Bremerton (results were not available at press time).
Against Bainbridge, Sequim jumped out to a 20-11 lead after one quarter but the Spartans came back to tie the game at 24-24 by halftime.
The game remained knotted at 30-30 after three quarters.
But Bates, who led Sequim with 13 points despite a tough night (1-for-10) from the 3-point stripe, had a key steal-and-basket to break the deadlock. Vaara added an old-fashioned three-point play, Jelissa Julmist hit a key lay-up, and Johnson and Bobbi Mixon added steals late to seal the game.
Sequim gave up just one point in the fourth quarter, helping make up for a tough night shooting (14-for-55, 25.5 percent) from the field.
“[They persevered], they fought through it,” Joclin Julmist said.
Vaara finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three steals. Bacon added six rebounds and three steals.
Mixon had eight points and three rebounds.
“Bobbi played her best game of the season tonight,” the SHS coach noted.
He said the Wolves were hampered by illnesses (Vaara, Johnson) and injuries (Jelissa Julmist/knee, Bates/thumb).
“We’ve got to get healthy,” Joclin Julmist said.
The Wolves were scheduled to play at Bremerton on Jan. 17; results were not available at press time.
Sequim hosts North Kitsap on Jan. 19 and 4A non-league foe South Kitsap on Jan. 21.
The Wolves are at North Mason on Jan. 24 and host Kingston on Jan. 26.
In the regular season’s final week, Sequim is at Olympic on Jan. 31 and hosts Port Angeles on Feb. 2.
Historic win at PA
The drought is over … about three decades later.
Sequim’s girls basketball squad broke a long and rather dubious streak in Port Angeles last week, earning the Wolves’ first win on the Roughrider home court since Feb. 16, 1995. After losing to the Roughriders twice earlier that season — one by just four points and another by 10 in overtime — a Sequim squad led by “The Taras” (Tara Millet and Tara White) topped their hosts, 69-55, a warm-up to their 2A district postseason. (Under coach Jeff Pedersen, the Wolves finished 15-7, 1-2 at districts.)
Since that win, Sequim dropped 23 consecutive games on the ‘Riders’ home court and just three against Port Angeles at what’s now known at Rick Kaps Gymnasium: in January 2007, January 2015 and last season.
In 51 match-ups since Sequim’s previous win in Port Angeles — including non-league, mid-season tournaments and postseason play — the Roughriders hold a 47-4 series advantage.