Pirates fall short in bid for medal

After one of the most successful seasons in Peninsula College women's basketball history, these Pirates will have to settle for a single tournament win.

Peninsula went 1-2 at the NWAACC Tournament in Kennewick last week, earning the school's first victory tournament win by any Peninsula women's team in four tries.

"This year's group, they decided early on that (they) were going to do something," Peninsula coach Julie Stewart said. " We really did want to finish in the top eight. We certainly had a chance."

After splitting the first two games, the Pirates fell in the consolation bracket semifinals to Centralia 69-56 on March 7.

The Pirates opened with a 65-51 loss to No. 4-ranked Clackamas two days earlier. Although Peninsula had the Cougars within three points with four minutes to go, the Pirates simply ran out of steam.

Clackamas closed the game on a 15-3 run.

"Clackamas, they just play a running style game," Stewart said. "I thought we did an excellent job on their guards (but) we took shots a little early in our offense."

Rylee Peterson, a player Stewart said was likely the best player in the tourney before an injury forced her out, led Clackamas with 24 points and 17 rebounds.

Sam Flett had 17 points and eight rebounds while Brooke Helpenstell added 13 points and 12 rebounds for Peninsula.

The Pirates were just 18-of-67 from the field (27 percent) and 4-of-17 (24 percent) from three-point range. P.C. committed 19 turnovers.

The Pirates rebounded with an 86-55 blowout win against South Puget Sound on March 6.

Reserve guard Dena Houser led Peninsula with 22 points and Britney Yamane added 16 points. Brittany Bridges scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half and had a team-high eight rebounds.

Marissa Magalei paced the Clippers with 18 points.

"We got some huge help from our bench," Stewart said, noting the 34-point effort from Houser, Damaris Craig (nine points) and Tina Knight (three). "That was huge. We shot well (and) we were patient."

Needing a win to get into the medal round and play for the NWAACC fifth- or eighth-place trophy, Peninsula ran into a strong Centralia Lady Blazers squad. Centralia shut down Peninsula guards to the tune of 7-of-34 shooting from the field (21 percent).

Peninsula's Helpenstell hit eight of 12 shots from the floor for a game-high 19 points while Brittany Bridges had 15 points, all from behind the three-point line.

Deanna Riffe led Centralia with 18 points and nine rebounds. The Blazers out-rebounded Peninsula 46-32.

"We came out flat," Stewart said. "I really thought we could beat that team. We just had a poor shooting day."

The Pirates finish 19-11 on the season and with a pair of sophomores on the all-North Division first team.

Bridges, Flett, Helpenstell and Krystal Tolliver are invited to play in a sophomores-only all-star game pitting their North Division squad against the powerful South all-stars.

Peninsula qualified for the NWAACC tournament in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 under coach Curt Bagby, and again in 2004-2005 under Julie Stewart. All three squads went 0-2 at

the tourney.

Flett, Helpenstell named all-division players

Peninsula sophomores Sam Flett and Brooke Helpenstell were each named to the all-North Division first team last week. Flett, a 5-foot 6-inch sophomore guard from Wellpinit, led the Pirates with 15.7 points per game, 89 steals (3.3 per game) and 109 assists (4.0 per game). She was second on the team with 36 three-pointers and a .394 shooting percentage. Flett was named to the NWAACC North Division second team in 2007-2008. Helpenstell, a 5-foot 11-inch sophomore forward from Port Angeles, led Peninsula with a .610 field goal percentage. She was second on the team with a 12.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and 76.6 percent accuracy from the free throw line. Helpenstell was named to the NWAACC North Division second team in 2006-2007.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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