PJH Panthers take bit out of Blazers

POULSBO — The Poulsbo Panthers opened the first quarter of Thursday’s game versus Marcus Whitman Junior High with a 10-2 run. The second half of that quarter was no slouch, either. The Panthers reeled off a 13-2 run to end the quarter — and the Blazers. The Panthers, who so far have struggled on offense in the early season, reversed that trend against Marcus, beating their rivals from South Kitsap 66-18.

POULSBO — The Poulsbo Panthers opened the first quarter of Thursday’s game versus Marcus Whitman Junior High with a 10-2 run.

The second half of that quarter was no slouch, either. The Panthers reeled off a 13-2 run to end the quarter — and the Blazers.

The Panthers, who so far have struggled on offense in the early season, reversed that trend against Marcus, beating their rivals from South Kitsap 66-18.

It was a balanced effort on the offensive end. Britta Olson led the team with 16 points, at one point reeling off four straight buckets, but teammates Meghan Jaynes (13) Katie Swanlund (11) Joanna Campy (10) and Aleene Lydick (9) were right behind.

Head coach Karla Hawes was happy with the team’s offensive execution. In previous games, she said, the Panthers were prone to quick, forced shots and poor possessions.

There was none of that Thursday, as the team swung the ball, passed into the post, and watched as its bigger players — especially Swanlund and Olson — took advantage of their height to score against the Blazers.

“This was an excellent game. We executed our offenses very well,” Hawes said after the game. “We also did a good job of running the fast break, of pushing the ball.”

Poulsbo was especially good at that in the first quarter, when Kim Skelly’s steal and layup pushed an early Panther lead to 10-0.

The Panthers took advantage of all aspects of the game; offensive rebounds (Jaynes’ scoop off the glass made it 17-4), blocked shots (Olson swatted a shot by Whitman’s Randee Robinson) and hot streaks (Olson scored eight straight points to put the Panthers up by 26).

The Panthers’ second half was as dominant as the first. At halftime they held a 38-12 lead. The Blazers scored a half-dozen points in the third quarter to Poulsbo’s 12, and the Panthers then bore down to hold Marcus Whitman scoreless in the final frame.

Joanna Campy put the final exclamation point on the game, hitting two straight buckets — a driving layup and an offensive rebound shoveled into the hoop — to widen the gap even further.

Hawes was proud of the team’s defense (“Our press was effective”) but was especially happy with the players’ patience on offense.

“Our weakness in the games we lost was that we didn’t run our offense with confidence,” said Hawes.

If Thursday’s game is any indications, the Poulsbo Panthers may have scratched that problem off the list.