The Gig Harbor Tides kept Peninsula's sophomore sensation and Oregon State commit JaQuori McLaughlin in check on Saturday night, as the Tides cruised to a 60-27 win over the Seahawks in front of their home crowd. McLaughlin didn't manage many clean looks at the basket, and finished with just 10 points.
“He's a really good player,” said Tides' head coach Billy Landram. “We tried to focus on him. We were playing a bunch of teams so we didn't even get a scouting report in until this morning. Our kids get excited to play just as much as theirs.”
The Tides, on the other hand, had no problem scoring. Senior guard Ryan Rychard finished with 22 points and four three-pointers. Junior Casey Gearhart added nine points. The Tides were up 32-14 at half and Peninsula was never able to close the gap.
“We played with a lot of energy and just fought hard and won the game,” Gearhart said.
Gearhart said the game plan was to key on McLaughlin, even if they went to a zone.
“Chris Drake did really well and I think we did a great job against him,” Gearhart said.
While the game lacked competitiveness this time, it didn't lack excitement, as students and fans from both schools packed the Gig Harbor High gym for the cross-town rivalry game.
“It means a lot, just for the fans and just to show them a good time,” Gearhart said.
The Tides were more focused and efficient on the offensive end than in games past. The team rarely forced shots, and executed the game plan.
“We're getting better and better at realizing what it is we want out of each possession, and working harder to get it,” Landram said.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks forced several shots.
“The game is a big deal, we were all amped up, and we started forcing shots,” said Peninsula senior Nolan Winter. “Our mental game was just down and got down from there.”
Winter also acknowledged that the rivalry atmosphere may have played a roll in their lack of success, at least in the beginning of the game.
“Obviously in a rivalry, everyone wants to win,” Winter said. “Everyone is out here to go to battle. I think you just have to flush the jitters and play the game. We came out a little too amped up and excited to play.”
While the Tides will enjoy the win, they're already looking ahead to what's next.
“It's a fun game to win, but we're more focused on our league and trying to pursue our goals,” Landram said. “It's a good rivalry, it's fun, but we're moving on to the next game now.”
Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.