BURIEN – Peninsula fell to Kennedy Catholic High School 71-67 in a physical, tightly officiated game on Wednesday night. There were 27 fouls called in the first half, 14 on Kennedy Catholic, and 13 on Peninsula.
“Coming into this game, honestly, I told our guys, 'They're not going to call too much. You have to play through it. No arguing, no whining, play through the contact,'” Peninsula head coach Jake Jackson said. “I thought tonight, maybe both teams were fouling that much, but I have never seen that many fouls called at the high school or college level.”
The referees weren't being unfair to either side, as the calls went both ways. However, it felt a little excessive to the crowd and to both coaches. Regardless, the officiating did not dictate the outcome of the game. The Seahawks, who pride themselves on their defense, struggled against a potent Lancers offensive attack, which featured several capable scorers. Junior guard AJ McGrew led the Lancers with 21 points, scoring in a variety of ways. Junior forward Parker Diller scored 19 points, including four three-pointers. Junior guard Michael Sasonoff scored 17 points.
“They got offensive rebounds, a lot of second chance points,” Jackson said. “They had three-pointers, moving along the arc. Our help-side defense didn't have triangle vision of their man, the ball. Their man got free, and they got some shots. In the first half, they were 5 for 5 from three-point shots. Second half, they shot the ball really well. That's what is cool about where we're at now: every team is great.”
Peninsula, who trailed by 10 at half and by 16 at one point in the third quarter, fought their way back to make it interesting in the fourth. Sophomore guard JaQuori McLaughlin was his usual self, displaying a dizzying array of athleticism en route to 28 points. Sophomore center Jimmy Ritchie used his height to tally 16 points. Perhaps flying under the radar though, were the contributions of senior guard Nolan Winter, who quietly amassed 14 points in the loss. Kennedy Catholic switched to a 2-3 zone early in the second quarter to neutralize McLaughlin's impact. To an extent, it worked, forcing other players to step up for Peninsula. Winter took advantage, grabbing the ball in the middle of the zone, the sweet spot, and turning around and knocking down several key jumpers.
In the end, however, it wasn't enough, and the Seahawks came up a little short. Still, Jackson was pleased with their grit and fight.
“We've got to leave this game, this school and this court with our heads high,” Jackson said. “We battled, we came back and tied the game, only lost by four. We learned a lot from tonight. We play Friday, keep doing what we're doing. I'm proud of them, they battled.”
In the midst of his first postseason loss at Peninsula, Jackson took a second to put things in perspective, and reflect on how far the program has come.
“Last year, we were 4-16,” he said. “This year, 15-5 (regular season), now 15-6. It'll take time.”
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.