In the fourth quarter, when the stress of a tough season was coming to an end Feb. 13, the Port Townsend Redhawks let their guard down. They smiled up and down the court, and players who hadn’t been bold enough to be offensive forces relaxed and let their shots fly.
Seattle Christian eliminated Port Townsend 61-34 in a Class 1A West Central District girls basketball playoff game at Bruce Blevins Gymnasium, but the Redhawks (6-12) took away a sense of accomplishment.
“We just had fun at the end,” said 5-foot-1 guard Rosalyn Salmon, the only senior on the team. “We knew based on the score that it was going to be our last game. We might as well enjoy it.”
Salmon, who hadn’t scored much this season, drilled a 12-footer from the right side in the third quarter and banked in a jumper from the same spot in the fourth to finish with four points.
“It’s the first game I’ve really taken my shot,” Salmon said. “Too bad it’s my last game. It felt nice.”
Seattle Christian was dominant early on. Junior guard Olivia Clark scored 12 of her 20 points in the first quarter, and senior guard Serianna Anderson finished with a game-high 21 points for the Warriors (8-11), whose 1-3-1 full-court press frustrated Port Townsend from the opening tip.
Seattle Christian scored the first 14 points of the game before junior post Izzy Hammett broke the drought five minutes into the contest when she sank the second of two shots from the free-throw line.
“They sent a cutter across the middle (of the court) and got a lot of steals that way,” said assistant coach Scott Wilson, who filled in for head coach Cameron Botkin, who traveled to watch her daughter graduate from boot camp in Oklahoma.
Clark was all over the court, bouncing from one end to the other and picking off Port Townsend passes and leading the Warriors’ offense on the other end.
“She was extremely fast,” Salmon said, comparing Clark’s defensive tenacity to that of Chimacum’s Jada Trafton. “It took us some time to adjust to that.”
Seattle Christian outscored Port Townsend 21-6 in the first eight minutes and led 29-14 at halftime.
Hammett, a 6-1 forward, was the Redhawks’ leading scorer with 15 points. She also tallied 10 rebounds, seven on the offensive end.
“Izzy was just a monster tonight,” Wilson said.
Hammett said she was glad many players got some experience late in the game. Wilson used all of Port Townsend’s timeouts in the fourth quarter to get the younger Redhawks on the court.
“It was fun playing with different girls on the court,” Hammett said.
Port Townsend players and coaches talked about the growth they experienced from the beginning of the season. The Redhawks lost 10 of their first 11 games, but they went 5-1 down the stretch to earn the Olympic League’s No. 2 seed to the district playoffs.
“We had a lot of games when we couldn’t pass the ball around the court,” Hammett said. “When we finally figured out how to play together more, we started to play pretty well.”
Sophomore forward Gina Brown was a key piece. She transferred this year from Quilcene and couldn’t play early in the season until the WIAA approved a waiver.
Sophomore Sorina Johnston and freshman Savanna Hoffmann were the team’s top ball handlers, and freshman Aurin Asbell had a couple key performances with her left-handed shot.
Yet Port Townsend’s offense was mostly run through the post play of Hammett and Brown until just a few weeks ago.
“The last two or three games, we deliberately opened up the offense to include the guards shooting a little more,” Wilson said. “That really is going to be a benefit next year and the year after.
“The growth in this team has been tremendous,” he added, “both in terms of athletic ability and emotionally.”
Hammett said the coaching staff played a big factor.
“They never gave up on us,” she said. “They always had a positive attitude during practice.
“It’s going to get us a lot farther.”
Cascade Christian 46, Chimacum 23
The Cowboys were eliminated from the West Central District tournament Feb. 16 as Cascade Christian limited them to two points in both the first and fourth quarters at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma.
Senior Maddie Dowling and sophomore Mia McNair each scored seven points for Chimacum, which finished the season 13-7. Senior Gabi Miller led Cascade Christian (13-11) with 11 points, and junior Lexi Pearson added 10.
The Cowboys had their 10-game winning streak snapped Feb. 15 in the district semifinals when Annie Wright advanced, 77-21.
Bellevue Christian earned the district’s top seed to regionals, and Annie Wright beat Cascade Christian on Feb. 18 to secure the No. 2 spot.