The Peninsula Seahawks made a valiant fourth-quarter comeback, but they came up short in a 55-52 contest against the visiting Enumclaw Hornets last week.
The Hornets (11-2 overall, 4-0 SPSL 3A) jumped out early and finished the first quarter with a 20-1 lead. The hole proved to be too much for the Seahawks (11-3, 3-1).
Enumclaw head coach Kellen Hall said defense has been a priority 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,” he 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.”
Zac Webb, a 6-foot-3 junior forward, led the Hornets with 16 points. Drake Rademacher, a 6-8 senior post, chipped in 12, while senior Bryce Peterson added nine.
Hall said the balanced scoring attack is imperative to the Hornets’ 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.”
Enumclaw held Peninsula sophomore JaQuori McLaughlin in check. The Oregon State commit scored just 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,” he said. “Josh Erickson was who we put on (McLaughlin). 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. Jackson praised his team their success this year.
“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, because 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,” 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 ’til 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, and the Seahawks remained in second place with a 47-45 win over Auburn Mountainview on Friday. Peninsula also beat Sumner on Saturday, 45-43.
“We’re just going hard every day in practice and getting better every day,” McLaughlin said.Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.