Portland at Williamston – – Girls Basketball – – The Bleacher Denizen – – December 3, 2021 – – by Chuck Krafft

Tonight, the Bleacher Denizen is out to Williamston High School where the Hornets will host the Raiders from Portland. Both these programs have had strong girls’ basketball teams over the last few years. In fact, Portland is the defending state champion; they are returning four starters from that team.

Ashley Bower is a complete basketball player. She will run the point this year; last year, she played mostly as a shooting guard. She is tall, an aggressive defender, a solid rebounder, an effective outside shooter, a strong ball handler and great at slashing to the basket for scores. She also shoots free throws well. Maybe THAT’S why she was an All-State player last year and will almost certainly be one again this year.

Thanks to Raider Coach Jason Haid for providing me with this information. Alivia Densmore and Breckyn Werner are returning starters who play mainly in the post, but also are a threat from outside. Both of them score well, defend well and rebound well in the post. The other returning starter is Ava Guilford, who is an aggressive defender and a fearless slasher and shooter.

The fifth starter was is last year’s first player off the bench, Shalyn Dziewiatkowski. She is an amazing defender with the quickness to defend well on the perimeter and the long arms needed to defend inside depending on the situation. One thing she does really effectively is to kick passes out of bounds. Even though the other team gets the ball back, it’s a jarring moment that can affect the opponent’s offensive rhythm. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen her kick at a ball and miss; that’s actually quite an athletic feat. I’ve never seen any other player do it, much less have it as part of their usual defensive arsenal.)

Malia Thelen is a good perimeter defender, ball handler and shooter who helps out at the guard positions. Alexa Weber provides depth in the post; she is a fine defender and rebounder. Doltza Olartzabal is a foreign exchange student who is playing for Portland this year. She is a creative ball handler with an accurate three point shot.

Hornet Coach Pete Cool helped me with information about this year’s Hornets. Senior Guards Kaley Douglass and Sophie Cook are team captains. Kaley Douglass is an excellent three point shooter and fine defender. Sophie Cook has an excellent motor and is a real pest on defense. Junior Isabel Lindo is another captain. She is a fine shooter and ball handler who also defends well. This is her third year on the Williamston varsity. Sophomore Reese Gaytan, who is in her second year of varsity basketball starts up front. She is a threat to slash to the basket and last year, when I saw her, she was excellent at getting fast break baskets.

Tonight’s fifth starter is Grace Porrell, who is a tough defender and rebounder in the post. Sophie Casey and Sammi Schultz are seniors who provide defensive depth in the backcourt. Junior Leisya Newell, Sophomore Ellie Thorburn and Sophomore Claire Casey are also spirited defenders.

It is now time to look at the events of this game through the somewhat clear prism of a Bleacher Denizen who was never able to escape church league when he attempted to hoop as a child. It did not help that he was confused because you can get a point for a leaner in horseshoes, but official scorers in basketball are never terribly generous about handing out points when a shot hits the rim. The mind boggles!!!

Portland wins the opening tap. Alivia Densmore gets into the lane and hits an eight foot banked shot from the side to give her Raiders the first two points of the game. Ashley Bower knocks a pass out of bounds; Williamston retains possession. Sophie Cook alertly makes an athletic save to prevent a Hornet turnover. Sophie Cook is fouled on a layup and sinks two free throws to tie the game at 2-2 with 7:03 to play in the first quarter.

Portland misses a layup. Williamston misfires on a threeball from the side. Ava Guilford drives and hits a six foot runner in the lane for Portland. Ava Guilford knocks the ball away from Williamston and Alivia Densmore picks it up for Portland. Sophie Cook blocks a Raider fast break layup; the ball goes out of bounds and Portland retains possession. Portland misses a layup. Breckyn Werner gets the offensive rebound for the Raiders. Portland misses a layup. Alivia Densmore blocks a Williamston triple try. Breckyn Werner passes to Alivia Densmore, who is fouled on a layup. Alivia Densmore makes one of her two free throws to give Portland a 5-2 lead with 5:19 to go in the quarter.

Alivia Densmore hits the floor to tie up the ball. Alas, the Possession Arrow’s mind was elsewhere and missed this magnificent hustle play. The Possession Arrow awards the ball to Williamston and hopes no one will notice. (But the Bleacher Denizen did!!!!) Williamston misses an eight foot shot in the lane. Portland loses a pass out of bounds. Williamston misfires on a threeball from the side. Portland throws a pass out of bounds. Williamston misses an eight footer in the lane. Alivia Densmore hits an eight foot shot off the dribble from the side of the lane to give Portland a 7-2 lead.

Reese Gaytan drives in for a Williamston reverse layup. Reese Gaytan steals the ball and hits a fast break layup for Williamston. Portland misses a layup. Breckyn Werner snares the offensive rebound for the Raiders. Portland misses a layup. Reese Gaytan spins and hits a layup to give Williamston an 8-7 lead.

Ashley Bower responds with a layup for Portland. Sophie Cook is fouled on a layup. She hits two free throws to put Williamston back on top by a 10-9 score with 58.9 seconds to go in the quarter.

Grace Porrell steals the ball for Williamston. Williamston misses a three point shot from the side. Grace Porrell grabs the offensive rebound for the Hornets. Williamston mislaunches a fifteen foot shot from the side as the first quarter buzzer sounds.

After one quarter, Williamston has a 10-9 lead.

Portland inbounds the ball and the second quarter is underway. Portland misses a seven foot shot from the baseline. Shalyn Dziewiatkowski hangs touch in the lane and forces a Williamston traveling violation. Portland misses a ten foot shot in the lane. Shalyn Dziewiatkowski pulls down the offensive rebound for the Raiders. Portland is fouled on a layup, but misses two free throws. With 6:48 to go in the first half, the Williamston lead is still at 10-9.

Williamston throws a bounce pass out of bounds. Ella Kleiver blocks a Portland shot; the Raiders end up losing the ball out of bounds. Shalyn Dziewiatkowski knocks the ball away from Williamston, but Ella Kleiver alertly recovers the ball for her Hornets. Alivia Densmore ties the ball up, but the Possession Arrow is on a power trip and coldly awards the ball to Williamston. Ava Guilford steals the ball for the Raiders.

Grace Porrell hounds Portland into a traveling violation. Williamston misses on a threeball from the top of the key. Portland misses a three point attempt from the side. Ashley Bower snares the offensive rebound for the Raiders. Portland misses a three pointer from the wing and fouls on the rebound. Breckyn Werner steals the ball for Portland. Portland misses a six foot fast break banked shot. Williamston misses a three pointer; the rebound goes out of bounds and Portland gets the ball.

Kaley Douglass knocks a Raider pass out of bounds to prevent a layup. Portland gets the ball back. Ashley Bower gets into the lane and hits a reverse layup to retake the lead for Portland. Williamston misses a three point shot from the wing. Ava Guilford drives and dishes the ball to Shalyn Dziewiatkowski, who hits a sixteen footer from the side for Portland. Breckyn Werner steals the ball for the Raiders. Alivia Densmore passes to Breckyn Werner, who pivots and hits a layup for Portland. Ashley Bower steals the ball and is fouled on a fast break layup. She hits one of her two free throws to boost the Portland lead to 16-10 with 1:42 left on the first half clock.

Alivia Densmore knocks the ball out of bounds; Williamston retains possession. Williamston misses a driving layup. Reese Gaytan knocks the ball away from Portland and Kaley Douglass picks it up for Williamston. The Hornets miss a fast break layup. Portland loses a pass out of bounds. Alivia Densmore knocks the ball away from a Portland dribbler and out of bounds. Williamston keeps the ball. Williamston commits an offensive foul. Portland misses an eight foot hook shot from the side at the buzzer.

After shutting out Williamston in the second quarter, Portland heads into the locker room at halftime with a 16-10 lead.

The Bleacher Denizen sets all his food from the refrigerator into his garage so he can defrost it. Oops, that’s halftime of my typing assignment, not of the game, but I suppose I digress. (I wish the freezer would digress, but I guess I’ll have to settle for letting it defrost.)

Portland has the ball to start off the third quarter. Alivia Densmore passes to Breckyn Werner, who hits a layup for the Raiders. Williamston misses a driving layup. Grace Porrell steals the ball for Williamston. Grace Porrell steals the ball for the Hornets. Williamston misfires on a triple try from the side. Sophie Cook snags the offensive rebound for the Hornets. Williamston misses a fourteen foot shot in the lane. Despite being knocked to the floor as she does it, Sophie Cook manages to get the offensive rebound for the Hornets. Alivia Densmore steals the ball and passes to Ashley Bower, who hits a layup to give Portland a 20-10 lead.

Breckyn Werner steals the ball for Portland. Shalyn Dziewiatkowski passes to Alivia Densmore, who hits a layup for Portland. Breckyn Werner blocks a Hornet driving layup; the loose ball goes out of bounds and Williamston gets another opportunity. Grace Porrell passes to Sophie Cook, who is fouled as she launches a threeball from the wing. Sophie Cook hits one of her three free throws to trim the Raider lead to 22-11 with 5:13 left in the third quarter.

Portland misses a layup. Alexa Weber pulls down the offensive rebound for the Raiders. Portland misses a shot. Williamston misses a three point shot from the corner. Isabel Lindo steals the ball and is fouled on a fast break layup. She hits one of her two free throws for the Hornets. Portland bounces a pass out of bounds. Claire Casey passes to Sophie Casey for a Williamston layup to cut the Portland lead to 22-14.

Malia Thelen sinks a three pointer from the side for Portland. Breckyn Werner steals the ball for the Raiders. Portland misses a sixteen footer from the side and fouls on the rebound. Shalyn Dziewiatkowski comes through with one of her patented defensive kicks. (I knew she would give me one; I knew it; I KNEW IT!!!) The ball goes back to Williamston and they restart their offense. Breckyn Werner steals the ball for Portland. Ashley Bower passes to Shalyn Dziewiatkowski for a layup that extends the Portland lead to 27-14.

Breckyn Werner knocks the ball away from Williamston, Ava Guilford makes an athletic save to keep the ball in bounds and Ashley Bower secures the ball for Portland. Ava Guilford hits a fifteen foot jump shot for Portland. Sophie Cook takes the ball into the lane and scoops a ten footer into the basket for Williamston. Sophie Cook steals the ball for the Hornets. Williamston misses a layup at the buzzer.

After three quarters, Portland has a 29-16 lead.

Williamston inbounds the ball to begin the fourth quarter. The Hornets misfire on a triple try from the top of the key. Portland throws a pass out of bounds. Ava Guilford knocks the ball away from the Hornets and Alivia Densmore picks it up for the Raiders. Shalyn Dziewiatkowski passes to Breckyn Werner, who hits a layup to push the Portland lead to 31-16.

Williamston misses a layup. Portland misses a ten foot runner in the lane. Alivia Densmore steals the ball for Portland. Claire Casey harasses Portland into throwing the ball out of bounds. Sophie Cook scoops in a driving layup, is fouled and hits her free throw to shave the Portland lead to 31-19 with 5:10 remaining in the contest.

Breckyn Werner gets her hand on the ball; it goes out of bounds. Williamston gets the ball back. Williamston misses a layup. Sophie Cook’s fierce defense causes a Portland travelling violation. Ashley Bower knocks the ball away from Williamston and Breckyn Werner grabs it for Portland. Isabel Lindo steals the ball for Williamston. The Hornets miss a twelve foot shot in the lane. Portland misses a driving layup. Ellie Thorburn drives the baseline and hits a layup to cut the Portland lead to 34-21.

Ellie Thorburn knocks the ball away from Portland. There is a scrum for the ball and Sophie Cook wins. In the process one personal foul is called on Portland and there are offsetting technical fouls. Sophie Cook hits one of two free throws in a one and one free throw opportunity to cut Portland’s lead to 34-22.

Portland inbounds the ball. Williamston fouls a couple times; they are possibly trying to put Portland into the situation where they have to shoot free throws. As they have not fouled seven times this half, Portland keeps inbounding the ball. Isabel Lindo steals the ball for the Hornets. Breckyn Werner hustles back and knocks a pass out of bounds to foil a fast break layup. Williamston misses a three point shot from the corner. Kaley Douglass steals the ball for the Hornets. Williamston is fouled, but misses two free throws. With 1:13 left on the clock, Portland’s lead is still at 34-22.

The rebound gets loose and Isabel Lindo is fouled in a scramble. She hits two free throws for the Hornets. Portland is fouled; Ashley Bower makes both ends of a one and one free throw opportunity with 45.3 seconds to play to give Portland a 36-24 lead.

Breckyn Werner steals the ball for Portland. Portland is fouled, but misses the first shot of a one and one free throw opportunity. Williamston misses a three point shot from the wing. The rebound goes out of bounds and Portland gets the ball. The Raiders dribble out the clock.

Portland wins the game by a 36-24 score.

Williamston’s Sophie Cook led all scorers with 11 points. Reese Gayton supported her with 6 points. Isabel Lindo added 3 points. Sophie Casey and Ellie Thorburn each tallied 2 points.

Ashley Bower and Breckyn Werner shared scoring honors for Portland with 9 points each. Alivia Densmore put in 7 points. Ava Guilford and Shalyn Dziewiatkowski each scored 4 points. Malia Thelen had 3 points.

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