The Peninsula Seahawks capped off a successful Class 3A South Puget Sound League regular season Friday night with a 68-58 win against a pesky Lakes squad.
Sophomore JaQuori McLaughlin scored 27 points to lead Peninsula (15-5 overall, 7-3 league), which finished as the league’s No. 2 seed and will play at Kennedy Catholic at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday in the first round of the sub-district tournament.
The Seahawks will play again at 7 p.m. Friday to determine their seed to next week’s district tourney. The top two will earn a first-round district bye.
On Friday, Lakes’ zone defense gave Peninsula fits in the first half, and the Lancers led by six as the teams went to the locker room.
Peninsula head coach Jake Jackson made some adjustments and said his team wasn’t being aggressive in the first half.
“He (Lakes head coach Nick Jensen) went to zone, and we stopped attacking,” Jackson said. “We stopped attacking the dribble gaps and the baseline and the kill boxes. And then from there, they got out and ran and got some shots and got some offensive rebounds. So, at halftime, I said, ‘Fellas, whether they’re in man or zone, it doesn’t dictate what we do. We have to stay in attack mode always.’ ”
The Seahawks received the message, loud and clear.
McLaughlin attacked the basket and looked to pass when he was double teamed. Peninsula sophomore forward Austin Kingman took advantage, finishing with 18 points and several blocked shots.
Kingman set the tone for Peninsula in the second half with his physical play.
“I just hit a few shots,” he said. “I got some blocked shots, and I guess that just started me. Our team overall, we did a great job passing the ball, moving it and getting rebounds, and we came out with the win tonight.”
Kingman, McLaughlin and center Jimmy Ritchie, all sophomores, scored 55 of the team’s 68 points.
The future looks bright for the Seahawks with their young nucleus in place.
“You look at our roster, we have seven sophomores, so (Kingman) doesn’t have a lot of varsity experience,” Jackson said. “He’s starting to gain more confidence and feel more comfortable on the court.”
Jackson added the game is starting to slow down for Kingman.
“The mindset, Austin really understanding, reading the defense offensively,” Jackson said. “I think, in games prior, he hasn’t really read the defense. Tonight, I said, ‘Austin, you gotta slow down. Sixty percent. Read what the defense is giving you and just let it come towards you.’ That’s what he did.”
Lakes senior guard Cedric Williams finished with 25 points, scoring early and often in a variety of ways. Senior guard Aires Spiegner chipped in 14 points for the Lancers (7-13, 4-6).
It was also senior night at Peninsula, and the team’s two seniors, O’Shea McLaughlin and Nolan Winter, were honored.
“Not only from an energy standpoint, a glue standpoint, a basketball IQ standpoint, but just the overall love and respect from their teammates,” Jackson said of his seniors. “There’s been times where, at Gig Harbor, we lose by 30, or Puyallup, we lose by 13, or (Feb. 4), we lost at (Auburn) Mountainview, a game we should have won, for sure, but what’s great about this team is they keep bouncing back.
“That goes to Nolan and O’Shea,” Jackson said. “They don’t ever hold their heads down. When we face adversity, it’s always them that puts us back together. They’re monumental.”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.