After coming one basket, one possession away from topping a team no other NWAACC team has beaten this season, Peninsula's women had little left to swallow but the bitterest of pills in a 58-56 home loss to Skagit Valley Saturday night.
Brittany Bridges scored 17 points and Dena Houser tied a season-high with 13 points, but the Pirates couldn't hold on to a meager two-point lead in the end.
"We just played with one of the best teams - we've just got to take that as a positive," Peninsula coach Julie Stewart said.
Brittany Janz, a sophomore guard from Interlake High School in Bellevue, sank two free throws with 1.3 seconds left and the Pirates couldn't get a shot off as Skagit remained perfect in conference play (13-0) and 21-1 on the season. Their one loss: to West Los Angeles College in December.
Saturday's win was the Cardinals' third victory against Peninsula this season.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Pirates (9-3 in NWAACC, 14-9 overall) keep a hold of second place in the North Division with four games remaining.
Peninsula guard Krystal Tolliver got called for a foul with less than 20 seconds on the clock, but a Skagit player missed the front end of a one-and-one and Tolliver snagged the rebound. Peninsula called a timeout with 11.2 seconds left and possession of the ball underneath Skagit's basket. Tolliver looked to inbound the ball but couldn't find anyone open and Peninsula was called for a five-second violation.
Skagit went to Janz, who worked her way to the basket and got Pirate Sam Flett to foul her, drawing the ire of Peninsula fans.
Janz sank the game-winners with nearly no time remaining.
"It's hard (to lose like that) when you don't get a chance to get that last shot," Stewart said. Peninsula shot just 29 percent from the field in the first half but rebounding and defense kept the score close, with Skagit leading 31-27 at the break. Peninsula grabbed a 56-54 lead with less than three minutes left but couldn't get a basket after that.
Flett, the Pirates' leading scorer, finished with nine points - eight below her season average - but managed seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Tolliver added seven rebounds and a team-high seven assists.
Ashley Grater led the Cardinals with 16 points.
Peninsula hosts North Seattle on Feb. 18 and visits Whatcom Feb. 21. The Pirates are at Everett Feb. 25 before closing at home against Edmonds Feb. 28.
The NWAACC tournament in Kennewick is slated for March 5-8.
Flett takes flight
in rout of Rangers
She can hit the boards, find a teammate for a basket and swipe a pass. Oh, and she can score like mad, too.
Flett, ranked fourth in the NWAACC in scoring and tied for third in steals, showed once again her versatility in a 75-65 win at Olympic on Feb. 11.
The sophomore guard poured in 26 points, 14 rebounds and four steals, helping Peninsula keep a hold on second place in the NWAACC North Division.
Teammate Brooke Helpenstell added 18 points and 11 rebounds - eight boards from the offensive glass - to give P.C. its seventh consecutive win.
Their last loss came Jan. 17, a 77-56 loss to division leading Skagit Valley.
Tolliver chipped in with eight points, 11 rebounds, five steals and six assists.
Shayvonne Barrett, one of three Olympic players to play all 40 minutes, led the Rangers with 24 points and seven steals.
Team Conf. Over.
Skagit Vly. 13-0 21-1
Peninsula 9-3 14-9
Bellevue 8-4 15-9
Whatcom 8-4 12-8
Everett 7-6 7-16
Seattle 4-8 5-17
Olympic 4-9 6-15
Shoreline 3-9 9-14
Edmonds 0-13 0-20
Reach Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.