Sports

Missed opportunities catch up to Eagles

Klahowya’s Caleb Leavitt puts up a shot against a tough Port Townsend defense in Friday’s 57-51 loss to the Redskins. - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Klahowya’s Caleb Leavitt puts up a shot against a tough Port Townsend defense in Friday’s 57-51 loss to the Redskins.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

By AARON MANAGHAN

Sports editor

The Klahowya boys basketball team had Friday’s date circled on the calendar ever since falling to Port Townsend on the road in December.

But much like that game, which saw the Redskins, ranked seventh in the state at 2A, topple the Eagles (9-7 overall, 7-5 in league) 48-42, PT (15-1, 11-1) rose to the occasion once more, winning again by six points, 57-51 Friday.

“Oh man. We wanted it so bad,” Klahowya senior Brad Stockton said. “Especially with the game up there. We’ve been playing together, a lot of us, for eight years now. We wanted that win more than any other game we’ve ever played.”

While the Eagles didn’t get the win, Klahowya is still tied for the No. 2 seed out of the Olympic League into the 2A West Central District Tournament with North Mason, whom the Eagles host in what is expected to be another barn burner this Friday.

“We have nothing to hang our heads about,” KSS coach Scott McMinds said following the loss. “We’ve just got to take one game at a time. We’ve got a big week next week.”

In addition to taking on the Bulldogs (12-5, 7-5), the Eagles hosted 3A leader Port Angeles (9-7, 8-4) last night, but results were unavailable at press time.

In Friday’s loss, the Eagles and Redskins seemed to match one another throughout the first three quarters. The teams traded the lead seven times in the first quarter alone.

But as the game went on, the Eagles missed some key opportunities to go ahead. With the Redskins known for their swarming defensive style, McMinds said they knew the task at hand would be a tough one.

“They’re one of the best defensive teams around,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re 2A or 4A. They can stop any team. They’re not real big but they play well.”

As a result, the Eagles needed to step up on defense when PT stopped their offensive attack.

“That’s something we’ve been working on,” McMinds said. “As soon as we get a little tired, we stop using our feet and start using our hands.”

After the first quarter finished in an 11-11 tie, the Redskins opened the second on a 5-0 run that lasted until about two minutes remaining, when the Eagles rallied back behind an Andre Moore steal and break away that made it 19-18 Eagles.

But PT’s top threat, Aaron Gifford, hit a tough off-balance shot while drawing a foul, converting the three-point play and helping preserve what would be a 23-22 PT adverting at the half.

Stockton said it was great for the Eagles to play in such an intense first half.

“In the first half, just getting out and having that intensity level especially fired us up,” he said. “This is one of our biggest games of the year.”

The teams went back and forth again throughout the third quarter until a string of second-half fouls (some of which were justified while others seemed questionable), helped the ’Skins build a seven-point lead before a Caleb Leavitt three-pointer kept Klahowya close trailing 34-30. Despite the foul disadvantage, the Eagles stayed in reach, finishing the third quarter down 39-35.

The foul discrepancy was even thicker in the final frame however, with the Eagles being hit with 11 fourth-quarter fouls to PT’s four (although several of those fouls came late in attempts to control the clock). Overall, Klahowya was hit with 24 fouls in the game to PT’s 16.

The hardest part was not so much the foul calls as the infractions themselves. Things that officials let go throughout the first half were called left and right in the second. It’s that in-game adjustment that Klahowya found the toughest, with both McMinds and Stockton saying those kinds of calls can make composure a challenge.

“From our perspective, the toughest thing is keeping our composure,” Stockton said. “Just not getting angry. That’s the hardest thing to do.”

“I think it’s tough for the players and the coaches,” McMinds added. “It’s tough for everyone in the gym. But that’s part of the game. A lot of what we talk about is composure. As coaches too, it’s really easy to want to fly off the bench and get in the official’s jersey.”

Despite the fouls though, Klahowya had their chances, missing numerous inside buckets.

“The kids are playing hard,” McMinds said. “We just didn’t make shots when we needed to.”

Combined with the PT free-throw barrage (Gifford himself was 17 of 19 from the stripe), and the Eagles had their work cut out for them.

“Any time you put Aaron Gifford on the line, he’s gonna make you pay,” McMinds said.

Not to be deterred however, the Eagles climbed back within four points despite trailing 53-42 with just a minute remaining.

A Moore three-pointer started the rally, trimming the lead to 53-45 with 42 seconds to go. Forced to foul, PT went back up 54-45 before Darell Newman iced a three to cut the lead to 54-48 at the 30-second mark.

Port Townsend’s Parker McClelland, whom the Eagles did a good job containing throughout the contest inside and out, went 1-2 at the line, putting the Redskins back up 55-48.

“We were d-ing up on Parker very well,” Stockton said. “He’s got a very good high-low game. And we worked hard locking down on those three-point shots.”

Just seconds later, Moore hit another three to make it 55-51. But with just more than 8 seconds left, that was as close as the Eagles would get, fouling one last time to finish 57-51.

“The unfortunate thing is the clock keeps running,” McMinds said. “In college, the clock stops. But we hit some big ones.”

With a packed house, McMinds said the support certainly helped his team perform.

“It was really fun,” he said. “I’m really grateful the fans came out and filled the gym. It made for an exciting basketball game.”

Moore led Klahowya offensively with 24 points while Chris Zumdieck logged a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. On the PT side, Gifford scored 26 overall while McClelland scored 10. The Eagles got big defensive contributions from Stockton, Gene Armendariz, Newman and sophomore Andrew Holm as well.

While the game was a big one, the Eagles know they still have a tough road ahead.

“It’s a big game for all the seniors,” McMinds said. “We work really hard for every game. The seniors want to make the playoffs. We look at one game at a time, but we also try to look at the big picture.”

Olympic

The Trojans (5-11, 5-8) fell to North Mason on the road 57-32 Friday, using a 22-6 first-quarter to pull ahead early.

Joey Johnston led Oly with 10 points but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Bulldogs had three in double-digit scoring.

Oly was at Port Townsend last night, but results were unavailable at press time.

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