Peninsula High School wraps up strong summer campaign

Juniors JaQuori McLaughlin, Jimmy Ritchie continue to generate college interest

Staff writerJuly 2, 2014 

Peninsula High School junior guard JaQuori McLaughlin continues to rack up Division-I college offers. Washington State is the latest to offer.

JON MANLEY/GATEWAY PHOTO

The Peninsula High boys basketball team has appeared strong this summer. The Seahawks are wrapping up their busy summer basketball schedule with a couple team camps at the University of Oregon, and another in Seaside, Ore. While the team is still young — primarily juniors — the Seahawks are starting to turn some heads.

“We’re not keep tracking of wins and losses too much, but we’ve beaten Foss, Seattle Prep, Mercer Island,” said Peninsula head coach Jake Jackson.

Teams are rarely at full strength during summer league, and the exhibition games are a good chance for teams to try different lineups and run different sets. Still, beating good programs is at least a decent indicator of a team’s talent level and progress.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Jackson said. “It’s about building team chemistry, executing what we do. Come November, we’ll have experience and confidence under our belt.”

Most of the hype surrounding the team is around junior guard JaQuori McLaughlin, who has offers from Oregon State, Washington, Memphis, Washington State and Boise State. Other schools are interested, such as Gonzaga and Oregon.

“JaQuori is most coveted player in the whole state,” Jackson said.

Jackson added that McLaughlin has more offers than any other prep player in Washington, but he’s yet to commit to a school. With all the attention he’s receiving, teams naturally want to shut him down.

“We get the best out of every team we play,” Jackson said. “Teams have celebrated like they’ve won the national title every time we’ve lost. Teams get up to play us now. Three summers ago, teams expected to beat us. It just shows how far we’ve come, but we haven’t proven it yet.”

Six-foot-seven junior center Jimmy Ritchie is also garnering college interest from Cal Poly, according to Jackson.

Jackson said the recruiting hype around the team —most notably, around McLaughlin — hasn’t been a distraction.

“Its a confidence booster for everyone,” Jackson said. “There’s more team swagger, confidence and belief. (McLaughlin) is a very humble kid. He doesn’t even talk about it. The coaches have to bring it up to get it recognized. It’s special.”

The program welcomes some talented freshmen, highlighted by Sam Miller and Elijah McLaughlin. Jackson said junior center Josh Keough has looked “very good” this summer, and said junior guard Garrett Kingman has been a pleasant surprise.

“He’s our most consistent shooter,” Jackson said of Kingman. “He’s our best shooting guard since I got here three years ago. He looks good and comfortable.”

Next on the busy schedule, players will help out with the Peninsula basketball kids camp from July 7-10.

“We teach them how to serve other people,” Jackson said. “It’s a great opportunity to be a coach.”

Jon Manley: 253-358-4151 jon.manley@gateline.com Twitter: @gateway_jon

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