A new year, but it sure felt a lot like old times.
Peninsula's Ryan Rutherford and Olympic's Ary Webb, a pair of Sequim High grads, put on a dazzling display of basketball acumen in Port Angeles on Saturday night, combining for 70 points in a 105-83 Pirate home victory to open NWAACC conference play.
Webb, the 2009 graduate, sank eight three-pointers to lead the Rangers with 29 points.
Rutherford almost had that by halftime, drilling six three-pointers - one short of the school record.
Overall, Rutherford hit 15 of 17 shots from the field and, for good measure, knocked down another five free throws, giving him 41 points - a modern Peninsula College record.
"Everything I shot was going in," Rutherford said. "I tweaked my shot a little bit (and) I asked for more free rein this week, coming off high screens. It was a fun game. We just really wanted to step it up on defense."
But it was his offense making the Rangers go. Rutherford broke the mark previously set by Port Angeles grad Garrett Abbott, who scored 38 points on Nov. 29, 1997. (The all-time record was set by Bernie Fryer, he of NBA referee fame, who tallied 57 points against Lower Columbia in Peninsula College's state overtime title victory in 1970.)
Rutherford's six three-pointers was one shy of the school record.
"He's capable on any given night (of doing that)," Peninsula coach Peter Stewart said. "He can flat score."
Packed with Sequim fans, mostly to see Webb, the recent graduate, the Peninsula crowd saw Rutherford simply explode in the first half, hitting all six three-pointers and driving to the hoop at will, reminiscent of his senior season (2004-2005) at Sequim High. When not knocking down long-range bombs, the 6-foot combo guard found ways to slither between Rangers and dive toward the hoop. He had 27 points by halftime and the Pirates led 51-34.
When Rutherford and teammates were off the mark - and they weren't very often, hitting 65.5-percent of their shots in the first 20 minutes - Jason Gamblin was there to clean up the mess. Gamblin finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds. Teammate Trevant Musgrow added 14 points, five rebounds and five assists.
"I was pleased with our offensive execution," Stewart said.
For Webb, the homecoming was bittersweet. The 6-foot 2-inch freshman sharpshooter said he could feel the encouragement from the almost-hometown crowd.
"It kind of felt like coming home," Webb said.
The Rangers have taken a couple of big hits to their roster this season thanks to poor grades and injury. Saturday night's loss dropped them to 2-6.
"We're in it mentally (but) we're pretty small," Webb said. "We're trying to get back to where we were (at .500)."
It was Webb's first game back on the peninsula after helping Sequim High make the state playoffs in February and March 2009. Webb and Rutherford never played on the same team for the Wolves, but Webb recalls as an eighth-grader watching Rutherford, then a senior, hit big shots for Sequim in the SHS gym.
Saturday night, the pair made for a special evening of basketball.
"(Webb) can play," Stewart acknowledged. "We hate to see him in the uniform he's in."
Isaiah Thompson helped the Ranger cause with 21 points while Cartiera French-Toney added 11 assists.
For the Pirates, it's a way to clear away the missteps they made in a 3-6 preseason. In four of those losses, the Pirates saw close games get away from them in the second half.
Even though the Pirates scored plenty - the most in one game since the 2005-2006 season - Stewart said he saw plenty to be concerned about, particularly late in the game. "You want to try to play 40 minutes of basketball," he said. "(But) we couldn't have been happier. I think the guys needed a break from the preseason."
Peninsula is back in action Jan. 6 at Bellevue. The Pirates host Skagit Valley on Jan. 9.
The Pirates and Rangers meet again in Bremerton on Jan. 30.