The long wait is over.
Sequim’s girls basketball squad edged Port Angeles 60-55 on Jan. 11, ending the Roughriders’ six-season, 14-game streak over their rivals.
Jolene Vaara completed a three-point play to knot the game at 53-53, Taryn Johnson scored on a steal and lay-up, and Vaara sank five free throws down the stretch to lock down Sequim’s first win over Port Angeles since the 2014-2015 campaign.
The win preserved Sequim’s (7-0, 8-1) record and hold on the top spot in the Olympic League while simultaneously ending the Roughriders’ 31-game Olympic League winning streak which dated back to Jan. 18, 2019 and included three straight league titles.
Vaara scored 21 of her game-high 31 points in the second half, with Johnson chipping in 10 points.
“She’s a special kid,” Wolves coach Joclin Julmist said of Vaara. “I tell her she can be the best player in the league if she wants to be.”
While a number of Sequim players hit key shots down the stretch, it was the Wolves’ defense that shone, holding the Riders to just nine points in the final quarter.
“Our defense is so good; we can do anything we set our mind to,” senior guard Hannah Wagner said.
Port Angeles led 31-28 at halftime and 46-40 after three quarters, but the lock-down Wolves’ defense kept Port Angeles off balance in the final eight minutes.
“We love defense. We work on it all the time,” said Johnson, a sophomore guard.
She said the team stayed positive , even facing a six-point deficit halfway through the final quarter.
“The one thing we always had: We don’t give up. We don’t ever give up,” Johnson said.
“We just had to settle down,” Wagner said. “We sometimes get too frantic.”
Vaara added eight steals and four rebounds. She said she entered the game with a defensive mindset and a big task on her hands.
“I was mainly supposed to try to completely shut down their best player Eve Burke because she has been killing it every game this season,” Vaara said. “Get down in the post and jump out if she moves.
“I was watching (Port Angeles players) eyes and trying to find them. Toward the end they were getting a little more frustrated and we could see more of what they were looking for. We fed off of that really well.”
The Wolves’ most recent win against the Roughriders also came at Rick Kaps Memorial Gymnasium in Sequim — on Jan. 9, 2015, when the Evan Still-coached Wolves won a 35-33 home thriller. That victory was capped by Jordan Miller’s 3-pointer in the waning seconds, and at the time ended an eight-season losing streak to the Riders.
Port Angeles had since asserted control of the cross-peninsula rivalry, winning contests over the next six seasons by an average of 15.8 points and never dropping a decision by less than nine points.
The Roughriders won both of last season’s contests, including a 68-52 game in the Olympic League regional championship.
“We are all so happy about it,” Vaara said of snapping that streak. “We want to keep it going, get our own winning streak going. We really wanted to get that win.”
Wagner, who led the team with nine rebounds and added eight points, said the key to the win came in practice.
“Everybody being focused at practice, showing up, dedication,” she said.
“It (the win) is amazing, especially senior year.”
Julmist said he was pleased with his team’s ability to play through mistakes and keep focused.
“When we play the way we can play we can compete with anybody,” he said. “We have a really good solid group of players and defensively on that side we are just as good as anybody.”
Roughriders coach Michael Poindexter said Port Angeles will rebound from the loss.
“We’re fine — the kids are hurt and upset with themselves,” he said. “But they worked hard, there was no lack of effort, it was a lack of execution. And we will continue to hammer on that in practice and continue to get better.”
Sequim splits with Bainbridge, Mount Vernon
The Wolves split a pair of contests on Jan. 13 and Jan. 14, beating Bainbridge 46-31 in an Olympic League contest before falling 48-45 at Mount Vernon.
On the road at 3A Mount Vernon’s old-school gym, Sequim struggled to find the basket, shooting a collective 19-of-63 (30 percent) from the floor.
“We played very hard but could not buy a basket,” Joclin Julmist said. “It was a tough loss; Mount Vernon played a great game and they executed well in the last three minutes.”
Jelissa Julmist led Sequim with 17 points, adding six rebounds and six steals.
Vaara posted her third double-double of the week, scoring 14 points with 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Bates had seven points and seven steals.
“She had a good game on the defensive side and did a good job running the show (on offense),” Joclin Julmist said.
Against Bainbridge, Sequim weathered early foul trouble to Johnson and Jelissa Julmist.
“(We) had to sit them early in the game,” Joclin Julmist said. “Bainbridge played hard, but our girls weathered their first half attack.”
Julmist said his squad played great on defense once again.
“Hannah Bates was a ball hound, she was everywhere,” Julmist said. “(Vaara) had another double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.”
Jelissa Julmist led the way with 17 points and also had five rebounds.
“Jelissa had some nice moves in limited playing time,” Julmist said.
Addie Smith was solid on both sides of the court and chipped in seven points, he added.
SHS tops Bellevue
Sequim (8-0 in league play, 11-2 overall) knocked off 3A Bellevue 45-35 on the road on Jan. 17, led by Bates’ 12 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
The Wolves didn’t shoot well at all but were disruptive enough defensively to earn a win over the Class 3A Wolverines.
“It was a tough game and our girls didn’t back down,” Sequim coach Joclin Julmist said. “We have been struggling with our shooting lately but our defense has kept us in most games.”
The Wolves connected on 15-of-59 shots from the floor (25 percent).
Vaara added six points and 11 rebounds.
“Hannah and Jolene normally have to guard the best players on the opposing team and so far they have done a good job setting the tempo for the rest of the team,” Julmist said. “They lead by example.”
Jelissa Julmist added a double-double with 1o points and 12 rebounds.
“She was tough tonight on the boards,” Julmist said.
Reserves Sammie Bacon (four points, three rebounds), and Michaela Green, Jordan Kidd and Libby Turrella all scored three points apiece.
Sequim is at North Kitsap on Jan. 20 before hosting Bremerton in a Saturday special on Jan, 22; game time is 1:30 p.m.
The Wolves host North Mason on Jan. 25 before road games on back-to-back nights: Jan. 28 at Klahowya and Jan. 29 at Kingston.