The Peninsula Seahawks (9-3 overall, 2-1 SPSL 3A) made a valiant fourth-quarter comeback, but they came up short against the visiting Enumclaw Hornets (10-2 overall, 3-0 SPSL 3A) on Tuesday night, who won 55-52. The Hornets jumped on the home team early, finishing the first quarter with a 20-1 lead. The hole proved too big for the Seahawks to climb out of, despite their best effort. Enumclaw head coach Kellen Hall said defense has been a priority for the Hornets all season.
“We really focused on wanting to get stops and get out to a good lead and let our offense kind of feed off our defense,” Hall said. “That's kind of been our goal this year, is to get out defensively first. Really offensively, a lot of it just fed off the energy from our defense.”
Peninsula head coach Jake Jackson said he doesn't know what happened in the first quarter.
“Honestly, I don't have an answer,” Jackson said. “We picked up some quick fouls, and then offensively we made some quick mistakes. We forced some quick shots. Because we forced some quick shots, they got out and ran up the court and we couldn't stop them. Our guys got a little deflated with that.”
The Hornets were led by 16 points from 6-foot-3 junior forward Zac Webb. 6'8” senior post Drake Rademacher chipped in 12 for Enumclaw, while senior Bryce Peterson added nine. Hall said the balanced scoring attack is imperative to their success.
“If you rely on one guy to score, if he has an off night, you get beat,” Hall said. “If we get two or three to produce in a night when a guy has an off night, we're still able to be successful.”
The Hornets held Peninsula sophomore and Oregon St. commit JaQuori McLaughlin in check, limiting him to 15 points on the night. Hall said the Hornets focused on playing fundamental, help-side defense.
“I thought we did a really good in the first half,” Hall said. “Josh Erickson was who we put on him. He did a great job. You're not going to totally stop JaQuori, he's a great player, he creates for others.”
The Seahawks were 4-16 a season ago, and weren't in position to play in big games, with league leads on the line. While the team has shown vast improvement this year, the experience is new, and it may have caused some early jitters. Jackson praised the team for their success so far this year and told the them it was a big game.
“They come into our gym, and we gotta show them what we're made of,” Jackson told his team.
McLaughlin said there might have been some jitters, but it came down to not executing early.
“We were rushing shots and not getting back in transition,” he said. “Not getting back in transition really hurt us, cause they were getting easy buckets off our mistakes.”
Peninsula center Jimmie Ritchie, a sophomore, racked up 17 points and led the Seahawks' second half comeback.
“They didn't have an answer to Jimmie,” Peninsula head coach Jake Jackson said. “They had some good players as well, but we just said, in the second half, we gotta spread them out, get the ball down low, and then from there, everyone's gotta crash.”
Jackson said he was proud of the way the team fought back.
“What's good about this team, is they came back, and they fought till the end,” Jackson said. “That's been our identity since day one this year: No matter if we're up by 20 or down by 20, they still go 110 percent.”
McLaughlin was optimistic after the loss, as the Seahawks are still in a good position with a 2-1 league record.
“We're just going hard every day in practice and getting better every day,” he said.
Enumclaw 20 10 19 6-55
Peninsula 1 15 18 18--52
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.