The Port Townsend girls’ basketball team has claimed first place in the 1A Olympic League for the first time in four years, thanks to back-to-back wins against Klahowya and Chimacum. The squad is …
The Port Townsend girls’ basketball team has claimed first place in the 1A Olympic League for the first time in four years, thanks to back-to-back wins against Klahowya and Chimacum. The squad is 3-1 in league play.
The Redhawks marked Jan. 3 by outpacing the Klahowya Eagles 56-30 in Olympic League action.
“This is the game where it all came together for us, on offense and defense,” PT coach Scott Wilson said. “It felt like the beginning of our real league season, and the girls really stepped up their energy and team play.”
The Redhawk defense stifled the Eagles in the first half, leaping to an 18-0 first quarter and a 31-8 halftime margin. The scoring was led by PT sophomore Jaz Apker-Montoya, who would finish with a game high of 21 points, and by PT’s senior point guard, Kaitlyn Meek, who would finish with 13.
“Jaz was on fire this game, on both ends of the court,” Wilson said. “Kaitlyn was heads-up all game, and distributed the ball well to the rest of our team.”
Wilson described the Redhawk defense as a team effort, with PT senior Cece Nielsen receiving “the tough assignment” of containing Klahowya’s senior shooter, Amber Bambalough, “and doing an exceptional job,” in his words, as Bambalough finished with 4 points.
The second half was a more even match, with the Redhawks gaining a slight edge of 25-22.
Although Klahowya outscored Port Townsend 16-14 in the final period, the Redhawks’ second team played that quarter and, according to Wilson, sustained the defensive intensity.
On Jan. 5, the Redhawk girls beat the Lady Cowboys 54-46 in Chimacum High School’s packed gym.
The Cowboys won the first matchup 44-41 on Dec. 8, and a third and final game between the two has been set for Jan. 30, also at Chimacum.
The Redhawks played Coupeville Jan. 9 after press time and are slated to play another away game Jan. 12 at 2A Kingston, before returning home Jan. 16 to face 2A North Kitsap, whose team leads the 2A Olympic League.
Wilson credited the outside shooting of Apker-Montoya with giving the Redhawks critical points in the face of what he deemed “intense pressure defense” from Chimacum.
Apker-Montoya hit four out of her five 3-point shot attempts toward a 24-point night, her best of the season.
“Jaz came through for us, especially in the fourth quarter, when Chimacum surged back,” Wilson said. “We needed it.”
Wilson also lauded Apker-Montoya for moving the offense along with sharp passing, and with connecting for 8 points in the final period, just as senior Jordyn King, in spite of 4 fouls, pitched in 5 points. The Lady Cowboys score 20 points in the final period, but the Redhawks kept pace with 18.
“Free throws dominated the final period, as is often the case in Redhawks-Cowboy games,” Wilson said.
The Cowboys hit five of 11 in the fourth, while the Redhawks went cold, hitting on only four of 17.
“We’ve been shooting 60 or 70 percent from the line most of this year,” Wilson said, “but not on Tuesday.”
Meek had what Wilson conceded was “a tough night” at the free-throw line, hitting three of 14, but he nonetheless praised her floor leadership for managing to “neutralize Chimacum’s full court pressure.”
Meek would finish the game with 14 points, 14 rebounds and 6 steals, and she also took a key charge. PT sophomore Mackenzie Lake helped, with what Wilson characterized as “poise under pressure,” keeping the ball in motion and making defensive stops, earning her 4 steals and 3 deflections.
“It was a different story early in the game,” Wilson said, when the Lady Cowboy defenders – led by Jada Trafton, Mia McNair, Grace Yaley and Maddy Dowling – forced a rash of turnovers, to give Chimacum an early lead of 6-0 in the first minutes.
“The traps and steals continued through the night,” Wilson said. “But the Redhawks battled back, finding sophomore post Izzy Hammett inside and Apker-Montoya opening up outside.”
At the end of the first period, Port Townsend led 13-11, and would keep the lead for the rest of the game.
Wilson points to a four-minute stretch, at the end of the third period and beginning of the fourth, that he feels was telling for the team.
“Meek hit a different gear as point guard to weave through the press, and teamed up with Jaz for a spate of points,” Wilson said. “The outside scoring then opened up Izzy inside for a couple of buckets. Everybody is moving the ball much better.”
At one point, Port Townsend had a 14-point lead, but that was whittled down by the Lady Cowboys in the fourth period.
“We have to do better at controlling the ball and the pace of the game in the final minutes,” Wilson said, complimenting Chimacum players on their “no-quit” approach to play.