Early in the first quarter last Wednesday night, Peninsula head boys basketball coach Jake Jackson yelled out to his players on defense.
“No threes!” he said.
The message was simple, but the execution was lacking.
The visiting Puyallup Vikings hit 11 3-pointers, six of which came from sophomore guard Tony Gutierrez, who finished with 24 points in Puyallup’s 61-48 non-league win at Peninsula High School.
“I keep telling the boys, ‘Do what we do, one possession at a time, with precision,’ ” Jackson said. “We have a counter to every defense and every offense. The guys know what to do, but it comes down to us as a coaching staff, pulling out a dictionary, and defining what the word precision means.”
Sophomore center Jimmy Ritchie said Peninsula (5-2) lacked focus at times.
“We were just trying to stop their dribble penetration and close out on threes, and we could’ve obviously done better on that,” he said. “I thought the effort was there on a lot of them but we just have to bear down and focus.”
Ritchie was one of the bright spots for the Seahawks, recording 17 points in the loss after he struggled at Gig Harbor. The Seahawks exploited the undersized Vikings.
“Jimmy is just starting to understand that, when he looks for his, and our guards get him the ball, you can’t stop him,” Jackson said. “When he’s sealing his guy on the weak-side block, and we’re throwing that weak-side pass to him, it’s all day long.”
Ritchie said his physical play the was key to his success.
“I was able to get some touches in the post, and I got to draw a lot of fouls, which slowed the game down for us and got them in some foul trouble,” he said.
Peninsula sophomore JaQuori McLaughlin, an Oregon State commit, struggled to find open looks. Opposing defenses are focusing on shutting him down, Jackson said.
“Right now, they are riding him like a horse,” Jackson said. “They’re all over him. But he’s gotta learn how to play through that. In the newspapers, it’s always JaQuori this, JaQuori that. So every coach in the state knows how to play him.”
Jackson gave credit to the Puyallup team and coaching staff, saying they were the better team Wednesday night.
“They have a great roster, (and) they’re very athletic,” Jackson said. “They were doing tons of traps.”
Still, the Seahawks’ coach would like to see his team execute at a higher level and adapt to the pressure.
“If the players really value what we do one possession at a time, be precise in all their actions and rotations, and also offensively getting the best shot, we’re hard to beat,” Jackson said. “We’re actually a really good team.”
Jackson said the team’s inexperience and youth are evident, at times, in their approach on every possession, where the focus sometimes lacks.
“(We need) every guy having zoom focus,” Jackson said. “What is our goal? Defensively, we’re trying to stop the ball and get the ball. Whether we’re in man or a different zone or full-court pressure, everyone knows their role in the rotation. Right now, there’s just not guys executing their role, and that’s what it is. It’ll take time.”
Ritchie said there aren’t any glaring issues with the team. They just need to tighten some things up.
“We need to come together as a team and focus on the little things,” he said. “There’s a lot of small details that we have to work on.”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.