Some nights, everything clicks.
Good teams win when it doesn’t.
Clay Greenland scored 36 points and wrestled away 11 rebounds as the NWAACC’s No. 2-ranked Pirates fended off an energized Seattle Storm squad 87-76 in Port Angeles Jan. 19.
Greenland, a sophomore who averages a little more than 19 points per contest, hit 13-of-18 field goal tries and 9-of-11 from the line, helping Peninsula (5-0 in conference, 14-4 overall) erase a three-point halftime deficit to Seattle (0-5, 3-13), the North Division’s cellar dweller.
“I just think they came with more intensity than we did and we just had to find an answer for it,” Peninsula guard Ernie Grimes said.
The only team to knock off top-ranked Spokane, the Pirates found themselves trailing the visiting Storm by as much as seven points early before a spurt closed the gap to three, thanks to Greenland and the smooth, left-handed stroke of Christian Harris.
Harris, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard from Canyon Springs, Nev., finished the night with nine points and three blocks, including a big stuff of 6-foot-10 Seattle center Jeff Massart.
Still, Peninsula was down 41-38 at halftime.
“They (Seattle) did a good job in the first half, Pirate coach Peter Stewart said. “We had to limit their basket penetration … and (not) allow them to get wide-open threes.”
The Pirates came closer to their coach’s demands in the second half. Down 45-44, Peninsula made a couple of long three-pointers from marksman Dominick Lozano, his only threes of the night. Seattle managed to tie it up again at 58-all but never got back the lead. Greenland’s dominating play inside helped spur a 15-6 run, highlighted by a breakaway, reverse dunk. Lozano’s floater over Massart gave Peninsula a 73-64 lead with 4:54 remaining, and the Storm’s offense devolved from there.
Peninsula built their biggest lead at 85-70 with 1:22 on the clock before settling in for the 87-76 victory.
“An 11-point college victory, we’ll take,” Stewart said. “In college basketball, you have to come to play every single night. Anyone can get beat … (and) we wear a big target on our back.”
Grimes, a 5-foot-11 sophomore from Neah Bay, finished with eight points, four assists and a game-high six steals.
Lozano added 14 points and Cody Smithson chipped in with eight points and four rebounds, all on the offensive glass.
Pirates blast Skagit Valley
Greenland overcame a second-half ankle sprain to score 24 points — eight of those in crunch time — as the Pirates routed Skagit Valley at home 76-63 on Jan. 16.
Harris added 15 points and Grimes added 10 pints and five assists as the Pirates withstood a resilient Cardinals squad to stay unbeaten in conference play.
Greenland, who came into the game averaging 19.1 points per game, was 11-for-20 from the field and had three steals. Two of his four dunks came after he tweaked his ankle, bringing the home Port Angeles crowd to its feet.
Jason Millon filled Peninsula’s stat sheet with eight points, nine rebounds and six steals.
NWAACC North Division standings (as of Jan. 20)
Team Conf. Over.
Peninsula 5-0 14-4
Bellevue 4-1 12-5
Whatcom 4-1 12-5
Everett 4-2 12-6
Edmonds 2-3 5-10
Shoreline 2-3 10-7
Skagit Vly. 2-4 5-11
Olympic 1-5 3-12
Seattle 0-5 3-13