If the Peninsula College Pirates wind up qualifying for the NWAACC playoffs, it will take plenty of hard work and a little luck.
And the Pirates have had more than their fair share of luck - good and bad - this season.
Peninsula rebounded from their second consecutive last-possession loss to the Edmonds Tritons on Feb. 17 with an 89-84 win at Everett on Saturday, Feb. 20.
The victory moves the Pirates (9-6 in conference play, 12-12 overall) one step closer to a postseason berth heading into the Feb. 24 regular season finale against division-leading Shoreline.
The Dolphins (12-2, 18-4) topped P.C. 87-84 back on Jan. 23.
Peninsula is in a three-way fight for the No. 3 and 4 division playoff seeds against Bellevue and Seattle. If Peninsula winds up in a tie with Seattle for fourth place with identical 9-7 conference marks, the two teams play a tiebreaker game - despite Peninsula having won both head-to-head meetings. If Peninsula ties Bellevue for the conference's third seed, Peninsula's wins in head-to-head matchups would give them the higher seed going into the March NWAACC tournament.
Freshman big man Jason Gamblin nearly single-handedly kept Peninsula in the thick of that mess with a huge game at Everett last week. The agile post overwhelmed the Trojans for 28 points, 13 rebounds and six assists as P.C. built a 10-point first-half lead and held on for the win.
Trevant Musgrow had 16 points and Ryan Rutherford added 10 points and a season-high 11 assists in the win.
Peninsula once again controlled the boards, out-rebounding Everett 57-32 and holding the traditionally tough Trojan three-point threat to a modest 37-percent shooting (13 of 41) from long distance.
Dirk Snel led Everett with 32 points, hitting six three-point bombs.
It was Peninsula's ninth game in the past 11 contests decided by six points or less.
Monroe, Tritons steal crucial game in P.A.
Coming to a Peninsula men's basketball game? Be prepared for some heartburn.
The Pirates saw a seven-point lead - and a chance at locking up a playoff spot - disappear in the final two minutes against Edmonds on Feb. 17, capped by Triton Tyler Monroe's bank shot at the buzzer that gave Edmonds an 89-88 win.
It was the second consecutive buzzer-beater loss for the Pirates at home.
Peninsula looked to put the game out of reach early, building a 13-point lead (32-19) midway through the first half.
An energized Triton squad closed that gap to 46-44 by halftime and even took a 69-65 lead with eight minutes left.
A final Pirate surge gave what seemed an insurmountable lead. Rutherford, who led the Pirates with 37 points despite playing with three injured fingers, sank a three-pointer to give P.C. a 77-75 lead, sparking a 12-2 run that Musgrow capped with a lay-up and 86-79 lead with 1:58 on the clock.
Edmonds chipped away with a 6-0 run of their own, thanks to a Peninsula turnover and missed shot on back-to-back possessions. Peninsula's Gamblin looked to quell that run with a put-back with 21 seconds left, giving Peninsula an 88-85 lead with 21 seconds remaining.
Edmonds' Laron Daniels scored to trim the lead to a point with a basket. On Peninsula's next possession, Rutherford drove the length of the court and dished it to Musgrow, who had his lay-up try blocked and recovered by Edmonds.
With nearly no time left on the clock, the Tritons pushed the ball up court to Monroe, who left the hometown fans in shock with a basket as the buzzer sounded.
"We gave it right to them, those last three plays," Peninsula coach Peter Stewart said. "That's the name of the game this year: we can't finish."
Rutherford finished 13-of-19 from the field while Gamblin hit for 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Christian Manzanza had 10 points and three blocks.
Shaquille McKissic led five Edmonds players in double figures with 24 points. Monroe added 16 points, eight rebounds and five steals.
Team Conf. Over.
Shoreline 12-2 18-4
Whatcom 10-4 15-8
Bellevue 9-5 16-7
Peninsula 9-6 12-12
Seattle 8-7 13-11
Edmonds 6-8 9-12
Everett 4-10 6-16
Skagit Vly. 4-10 10-13
Olympic 2-12 4-17
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.