Even with their two big guns misfiring, Peninsula's Pirates are tough to beat.
Skagit Valley found that to be true last week as the host Pirates raced to a 31-17 first-half lead and held on for an 85-76 victory.
This, despite foul trouble from top big man Jason Gamblin and some ball handling miscues from top scorer Ryan Rutherford.
"It was a good win versus a very good ball team," Peninsula coach Peter Stewart said. "Our defense was not very good tonight. We've got to play the full 40 (minutes)."
The Pirates managed to jump to an early lead and maintain it by interior scoring and rebounding, out-working the Cardinals 50-32 on the boards.
Christian Manzanza, who gave the crowd something special early with a two-fisted dunk to open the game, finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Gamblin, who came into the game averaging 16.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest, collected fouls early and managed seven points and nine rebounds.
Trevant Musgrow, a 5-foot 10-inch point guard from West Valley, Utah, led the Pirate attack with 18 points and five assists. As the Cardinals looked to chip away at the Pirate lead, it was Musgrow and Rutherford pushing the pace and getting fast-break scores to bolster the P.C. lead.
""We communicated a lot more in the second half," Musgrow said. "When we run and gun is when we have the most fun."
Skagit was having fun late in the game as well, trimming the Peninsula lead to four points with about four minutes on the clock.
But Rutherford, who finished with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals, found a way to get to the free throw line when the Pirates' shots weren't falling late.
The tactic worked, considering that Andrew Beatty and Sean Stickney, two of Skagit's top players, fouled out late.
Peninsula went to the line 43 times; Skagit Valley, just 16 times.
Adrian Moffet led the Cardinals with 17 points, including four three-pointers.
Peninsula hosts North Seattle on Jan. 13 and travels to Whatcom on Jan. 16.
Second-half slumps? For the Peninsula Pirates, they may be a thing of the past.
That bodes well for Peninsula, that knocked off NWAACC North rival Bellevue on the road Jan. 6 with a 93-70 win.
Gamblin and Colton Worley had 18 points each while Jeremiah Johnson chipped in with 16 points and four steals.
The Pirates, who had seen close games slip away in the second half several times in a 3-6 preseason, held a two-point lead (38-36) at halftime, then outscored Bellevue 93-70.
Peninsula hit 19 of 23 free throws and converted 27 Bulldog turnovers into 31 points.
Rutherford, in his first game since scoring a team-record 41 points against Olympic on Jan. 2, missed all seven three-pointers but managed to score 16 points.
Gamblin, the 6-foot 5-inch freshman from Herriman, Utah, was one assist from a triple-double as he had 12 rebounds and nine assists. He also had eight turnovers.
Russell Jackson, Peninsula's backup point guard, led the second squad on defense by taking four charges.
David Maddock led
Bellevue with 20 points and six steals.
Reach Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.