A year ago, the Port Townsend High School girls basketball team had senior leadership and a junior-varsity team. This season, the Redhawks weren’t sure who would step up to replace them.
They got their answer last week.
Junior Izzy Hammett scored 10 points, all in the first half, to lead Port Townsend in a 38-18 nonleague victory Dec. 5 against Class 2B Crosspoint Academy at the Bruce Blevins Gymnasium.
The Redhawks (1-0) don’t have enough players to field a junior varsity, although the games they play against 2A Olympic League schools will count on a JV record. The roster breakdown shows inexperience — one senior, two juniors, five sophomores and four freshmen — but Hammett, a 6-foot-1 forward, has emerged as a player the girls look up to.
“She brings positivity, leadership and consistency,” Port Townsend head coach Cameron Botkin said. “As the only returning varsity player, she could easily have a bad attitude about how the numbers on the team shaped up.”
Instead, Botkins said Hammett has embraced it.
“I want to show how last year was and bring that positive energy back to the team,” Hammett said.
Hammett’s five field goals in the paint led the Redhawks in the first half, and Port Townsend sophomore Sorina Johnston stepped up with nine of her 11 points in the second half after Hammett got into early foul trouble against the Warriors (0-2).
It was Johnston who led the Redhawks’ full-court press, which pressured Crosspoint into numerous turnovers and limited the Warriors to just six second-half points.
“I really like defense, probably more than offense, because you have to have that focus,” Johnston said. “You can totally control how you play defense. It’s all about focusing and working together to get that steal.”
Johnston said Hammett worked hard on her game during the past year, and it shows.
“She’s such a positive influence and been such a great leader for the team,” Johnston said. “Her skill level has really increased. Her confidence is up, and her speed is amazing.”
Redhawks sophomore Katie Ballard tallied eight points off the bench, and freshman starter Savanna Hoffman added five points.
Joelle Zoolkowski, a 6-foot senior center, led Crosspoint with nine points, and junior Grace Briner had seven.
Port Townsend jumped to an 11-3 lead after the first quarter before Crosspoint narrowed the gap to 15-12 when Briner made a putback with 2:04 remaining in the first half. Hammett returned to the court with three fouls and sank a shot from the lane on an out-of-bounds play 16 seconds before halftime to give the Redhawks a 17-12 lead at the break.
From there, the defensive pressure took over.
Port Townsend switched up a 2-3 zone look with man-to-man defense on the back end of its full-court press, and the Warriors only mustered three field goals in the second half.
“We worked on trapping and just being aggressive on the ball,” Botkin said.
Hammett credited Johnston with leading the charge.
“Soso (Johnston) did a great job tonight, getting everybody energized out on the court,” Hammett said.
Port Townsend opened league play after press time Dec. 11 against Klahowya and will host Chimacum at 7 p.m. Dec. 14.