Things couldn’t have looked much bleaker than they did for the Peninsula College basketball men at halftime.
They were in a simple situation Saturday, March 2, against Bellevue College: Win and stay alive for the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament or lose and go home.
And they totally laid an egg in the first half, falling behind 46-29 after 20 minutes.
However, in a dramatic do-or-die comeback, the Pirates held the Trojans to 29 percent shooting from the floor in the second half and just 22 second-half points, roaring back from their deep hole and finally pulling ahead with a basket by Davien Harris-Williams with 16 seconds left to win 69-68.
In that wild second half, the Pirates shot 50 (15-for-30) percent and made six 3-pointers.
With the victory, the men finish North Division play at 7-7 (10-18 overall), good for third place in the division.
Harris-Williams led the team with five 3-pointers, 19 points and six assists, scoring 16 of his points after halftime.
Samuel Kahapea had 18 points and Malik Moore had a huge game on the boards, with nine points and 15 rebounds.
Coach Donald Rollman said the game came down to some big defensive stops by the Pirates down the stretch. Peninsula held Bellevue to 1 for 7 from the floor in the final 4:44 of the game.
“This was a playoff game, it was a playoff atmosphere,” Rollman said. He said a nice contingent of Peninsula fans made the trip to Bellevue to cheer on the Pirates.
It wasn’t just a playoff game, it was the second-straight playoff-charged win for the Pirates, who had to beat Shoreline on Wednesday just to make Saturday’s game meaningful.
Rollman said there wasn’t a dramatic change in strategy at halftime. The Pirates simply buckled down on offense and defense.
“We knew we couldn’t get it all back at once. We just had to chip away at (the Bellevue lead),” he said.
“You can write down a thousand adjustments. It wasn’t a thousand adjustments, we just played harder,” Rollman said. “We got all the 50/50 balls. We played with a lot of passion.”
The men had clawed back somewhat early in the second half, but it was the final 3:45 that made the difference. The men were still in desperate straits at 3:45, down 65-56 when they made their final push, outscoring the Trojans 13-3 down the stretch.
Nyair Cleveland, who only had three points for the whole game, started the rally with a 3-pointer, followed by a Harris-Williams bucket from beyond the arc. A basket and a free throw by Samuel Kahapea and a basket by Harris-Williams gave the Pirates a 67-65 lead with 1:44 left.
Kai Warren, who Port Angeles hoops fans likely remember as a North Kitsap player who always seemed to have big games against the Roughriders, hit a 3-pointer for Bellevue to give the Trojans a 68-67 lead with 1:28 left.
The teams traded possessions, each team missing a shot, and Harris-Williams provided the final points of the game with his clutch go-ahead bucket at 16 seconds left, scoring seven of his 19 points in the final 3 minutes. Bellevue got off two shots in the final seconds, but missed both and the Pirates hung on.
The Peninsula men made it all the way to the NWAC championship game last year, losing to champion North Idaho 90-83 in overtime. Peninsula learned Sunday night who the Pirates will face. For an update, go to www.peninsuladailynews.com or read Tuesday’s sports section.
NOTE: In addition to North Kitsap’s Warren hitting a 3-pointer, his former Olympic League 2A Division opponent, Luke Angevine of Port Angeles High School, also hit a 3-pointer.
Peninsula 69, Bellevue 68
Peninsula 29 40 — 69
Bellevue 46 22 — 68
Peninsula (69) — Harris-Williams 19, Kahapea 18, Moore 9, Buckley 7, Thomas 6, Kelly 4, Angevine 3, Cleveland 3.