Something special happens when these two teams meet.
Unfortunately for Peninsula's Pirates, it usually means an Orca overtime win.
For the second time this season, Whatcom edged Peninsula's Pirates in overtime, getting a last-second jumper from Elon Langston to tip P.C. 61-60 on Feb. 13.
The heartbreaking loss drops Peninsula into fourth place in the competitive NWAACC North division, two and a-half games back of first-place Shoreline and a game ahead of North Seattle for the final postseason berth.
Peninsula (8-5 in conference, 11-11 overall) does hold the tiebreaker against Seattle after beating the Storm twice this season, including earlier this week (see below).
Like their previous meeting, the Pirates and Orcas were nearly a perfect match for each other on Feb. 13, with the Orcas holding a 30-27 advantage at halftime.
Peninsula battled back to tie it at 51-51 with two minutes left after a pair of baskets by Ryan Rutherford, the second coming on a trick play where he bounced the ball off the back of a Whatcom defender and grabbed it for a lay-up.
Rutherford made a pair of free throws to tie it at 53-53 with 49 seconds left, and after Whatcom's Brandon Welch hit free throws to go up 55-53, P.C. forward Jordan Collins got the ball inside, dished to Trey Musgrove and his baseline shot dropped through the hoop with six-tenths of a second remaining, sending the game into overtime.
Whatcom jumped out to a four-point overtime lead before Rutherford closed the gap with a three-pointer.
Bryce Jacobson looked to give Peninsula the win with six seconds left on a basket, but Langston put up a running jumper in the paint that found the bottom of the basket.
On Jan. 16, Whatcom topped Peninsula 74-70 in double overtime.
This time around, Rutherford led all scorers with 23 points while Christian Manzanza added 11. Jason Gamblin had nine points but fouled out midway through the second half. Collins led the team with eight rebounds.
Paul Jones had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Whatcom.
Peninsula can take a big step toward the postseason when they host Edmonds on Feb. 17. The Pirates can lock up a playoff berth with a win and a Seattle loss at Bellevue.
P.C. edges Storm
Peninsula head coach Peter Stewart has three keys to success: defense, rebounding and offensive execution.
Last week against a tough Seattle Storm squad, two out of three was good enough.
The Pirates built a four-point lead by halftime and made it stick, outlasting the Storm 65-63 in a crucial road win that kept P.C. in third place.
"(It was) anyone's ball game," Stewart said. "We out-rebound them, our defense was outstanding. We just didn't execute our offense."
With a one-point lead and 0.2 seconds on the clock, Stewart called for guard Russell Jackson to miss the second freebie, knowing that the Storm would not have time to get a rebound and shoot a desperation winner. A made shot would give Seattle a chance for a tip-in to tie.
"It sounds simple but it's not," Stewart said.
Jackson, trying to hit the rim, inadvertently made the free throw and Seattle was able to design a last play that they weren't able to convert, although Stewart said P.C. nearly committed a foul.
Despite struggling from the field, Peninsula did all the little and not-so-little things: hustling to 48 rebounds (Seattle had 28), hitting foul shots (18 of 20) and converting second-chance opportunities (22 points).
While the Pirates got just 13 minutes from post star Gamblin, who battled foul trouble all game long, they did get a strong game from Manzanza, the 6-foot 4-inch power forward from Belgium.
Manzanza was 6-of-12 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the free throw line with five rebounds and no turnovers.
"He has really grown up," Stewart said. " Five days a week he's in the gym at
8 a.m. for individual workouts. He has really stepped up. It's proving to him what hard work and that extra effort will get him."
Rutherford added 12 points from the Pirates. Collins led the team with eight rebounds.
Perhaps Peninsula's defense deserves the game ball for this win. Pirates clamped down on the Storm's Wil Bush, a 20-points-per-game-plus scorer.
"We ran a bunch of different kids at him; it was a team deal," Stewart said, noting solid defensive pressure from Jackson, Jacobson, Jeremiah Johnson and Trevant Musgrow.
Bush managed just nine points on 2-of-12 shooting, including a 38-footer just before halftime and one lay-up in the second half.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.