Sports

"Troy runs Pt. Angeles, and coach, ragged"

"Robert Polk admitted he doesn't really like watching the way his Olympic High School boys basketball team plays this year.Tuesday night, though, the fourth-year head coach liked the results. The fast-breaking, free-shooting Trojans held off Port Angeles for a 61-54 victory in the Olympic League opener for both teams in Oly's gym.Afterward, while the Trojan players celebrated, their coach still was gnashing his teeth.I have to really relax and just let them go, Polk said. I never in my dreams thought I'd ever coach this way.Polk favors a more controlled style, the kind of inside-out basketball that runs through a big, solid pivot player, who either scores himself from close range or draws the defense to himself before dishing out to a teammate for a wide-open shot. Problem is, there's a dearth of that dimension on this year's team, with 6-foot-5 Drew Mader and Ken Waldo moving on to college over the last two years. Polk's tallest current players are all of 6-foot-2.Things like having a six-point lead (with 1 minute, 22 seconds left) and seeing Geoff (Kelstrup) go up for a 3-pointer still put a lump in my throat, Polk said. But that's the way we've got to play this year.The kids like it. They play this way on the playground every day, Polk added, reaching up to loosen a necktie that long ago had been tugged nearly undone. But this is a real change for me.The only ones in the gym who looked more uncomfortable with the game's fast pace were the Roughriders, who fell behind 10-0 out of the blocks and never seemed to really get their feet under them.We felt like if we could get them to play our style, we'd be in the game, said Polk. We wanted to make the game faster, which is something they don't like to do.The Trojans also stretched Port Angeles' defense past the breaking point. Kelstrup and Casey Manchester combined for seven of Oly's eight 3-balls, finishing with Kelstrup's dagger which made it 58-49 at the 1:22 mark. That long-range success forced the Roughriders' defense to lean to the outside and negated their height advantage. Troy actually outrebounded the taller visitors for the game, led by 6-2 junior Chris Lambert's 10.Though out of sorts throughout, Port Angeles - the defending league champion and its most consistent 4A franchise in recent years - was game. After falling behind 10-0, the 'Riders ran off 14 unanswered points, including seven by Jacoby Pender.But Manchester - who shared game honors with Kelstrup with 20 points apiece - notched five straight to put Troy back on top. PA needed a pair of threes by Jordan Tschimperle in the final minute to pull them even at halftime, 28-all.Kelstrup and Manchester carried the offensive load in the first half, but started to get some help off the bench after the intermission as cousins Chris (7 points) and Ferbien (4) Encomienda both checked in with clutch points. It was Chris Encomienda's 3-pointer with 6:15 remaining that pushed Olympic's lead to 49-40, and the 'Riders could get no closer than five the rest of the way.It was lucky for the Trojans that Pender, PA's most versatile scorer, had to sit out almost the entire second half with an ankle sprain. It was even luckier that the Roughriders went absolutely Nordic at the free throw line, hitting just seven of 18 shots after the break.But Polk was inclined to believe that his troops had made a lot of their own luck.Hey, as hard as these guys play, that's what makes this work, Polk said. Our bench guys gave us some quality minutes so that our starters could get some rest, and everybody just really worked hard. They like playing this way and they've bought into it.Victories like Tuesday's will help make it an even easier sale from now on. "

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