The Peninsula College men’s basketball team soon will discover how they match up against the best teams in the NWAACC. By the looks of their regular season performance, they will be up to the task.
“We have a terrific opportunity with this group of guys to compete for the NWAACC Championship next weekend,” Peninsula coach Lance Von Vogt said. “The team has bonded together and looks to be hitting stride at the right time.”
The Pirates (13-3 in division, 18-7 overall) open the four-day NWAACC Championship tournament against the Yakima Valley Yaks (8-6 in division, 15-10 overall) of the East Division at 10 a.m. on March 5 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
“We’ll be full stride when we get to the NWAACC (tournament) We’ve got plenty of time to prepare and heal and get mentally rested,” Von Vogt said on Feb. 21. “Our guys will be ready to play.”
Ultimately, Peninsula’s strengths overshadowed its shortcomings as the Pirate men persevered against a resilient Everett Trojans squad for a 75-68 victory on Feb. 21.
“When a team’s making a run, we get the whole team dialed in, collected together, and they’re going to execute the game-plan, and they’ve done a good job of that,” Von Vogt said. “That’s how we’ve weathered so many storms.”
The Pirates netted 16 of the final 22 points scored in the last six minutes of the opening period, including nine from Thad Vinson, and took a four-point lead, 41-37, into halftime.
The Trojans (4-12 in division, 4-19 overall), however, took advantage of Peninsula’s 18 turnovers, matching the Pirates point-for-point in the second half.
Punctuating a 13-5 Peninsula stretch, DeShaun Freeman gave the Pirates a 10-point advantage, 66-56, as he took a feed from Jerry Johnson, knifed through the lane, and delivered a one-handed dunk so powerful that it rocked the basket from its rest.
Freeman’s authoritative jam with seven minutes to play could have been the blow that knocked Everett out of the game, but the Trojans embarked on 12-3 tear that included nine unanswered points over a two-minute frame.
Everett’s Aaron Matzen stepped in front of a Peninsula pass and ran the length of the court for a layup, bringing his squad to within one point, 69-68, with 1:12 remaining.
That bucket would be the last time Everett scored as the Pirates drained the final six points of the game, all of them coming from Sammeon Waller.
Vinson led the Pirates with 23 points to go along with eight rebounds. Freeman added a double-double, netting 17 points and pulling down 15 rebounds.
Playing a rare Sunday afternoon game, postponed for four days because of adverse weather conditions, the Peninsula College men’s basketball team clinched a No. 2 berth to the postseason.
The Pirates employed an effective zone defense, forcing 20 turnovers en route to defeating the Shoreline Dolphins, 80-67, on Feb. 27.
The Pirates closed out the regular season with authority, winning three consecutive games and 11 of their last 13 match-ups.
Freeman led the Pirates with 29 points and 15 rebounds. Mitrell Clark added 16 points and four steals.
Reach Ryan Hueter at email@example.com.