What’s that line about gift horses? In sports, the same applies to road wins.
On Saturday night, Peninsula’s Pirates escaped Bremerton with a victory, their share of the NWAACC North division lead intact and a chance to move up in the polls after a three-point win against Olympic, 71-68.
Forward Clay Greenland continued his masterful 2007-08 season with a 19-point, seven-rebound and four-block evening, and guard Jesse Bean added 17 points, six rebounds and six assists, allowing the Pirates to improve to 3-0 in conference play and 12-4 overall.
“Maybe (this was) a little letdown after a big Bellevue win,” Pirate coach Peter Stewart said, “but any road win is a good victory in the conference.”
Peninsula raced to an 11-point first half lead and 38-31 lead at halftime but could never entirely shake the Rangers, likely due the Olympic’s 36-31 advantage on the boards. The teams saw four lead changes and two ties in the second half before Peninsula pulled away.
In the end, turnovers killed the Ranger effort as their 19 miscues led to 27 Pirate points.
Justin Artis led the Rangers with 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals.
The Pirates got 16 points from Dominick Lozano and eight from Christian Harris.
Peninsula is back in action twice at home this week against the NWAACC North cellar dwellers: Jan. 16 versus Skagit Valley (1-3 in conference, 4-10 overall) and Jan. 19 against North Seattle (0-3, 3-11).
Defense stymies bullish Bulldogs
The last time these two teams met, Greenland couldn’t stay out of foul trouble and the Pirates couldn’t get on the Southern Region Crossover Tournament championship game trophy.
Last Wednesday night, Peninsula made amends.
Lozano, Peninsula’s sharpshooter, scored 20 points — including seven clutch points in the waning moments — and Greenland played nearly foul-free for 37 minutes as the No. 3-ranked Pirates topped the No. 4-ranked Bellevue Bulldogs 59-50 on Jan. 9.
With Bellevue trailing by half a dozen points late in the game, Lozano, the Pirates’ second-leading scorer this season, waited patiently for the shot clock to wind down and drove the lane for a field goal and foul.
With just two minutes left, the Bulldogs were forced to attempt three-pointers and foul, and Lozano calmly swished the shots, giving Peninsula a big win over their its likely top contender in the NWAACC North division.
“(I liked) our defensive effort, to give up (just) 50 points to a ranked team,” Stewart said.
He added quickly the win meant just another game.
“It means we’re 2-0,” he said. “Hopefully it will give them a confidence boost.”
While Lozano, reserve Cody Killian (11 points) and Greenland (nine points) were finding the net on the offensive end, the Pirates truly won the game on the defensive front. Peninsula held Bellevue, a team averaging 74 points per game coming into last week’s contest, to just 50 points on 23-of-63 shooting (37 percent). A team that can be lethal from the three-point line, the Bulldogs managed just 3-of-25 shooting. “We wanted some revenge; Bellevue’s always been a rival,” said Bean, Peninsula’s starting point guard, who finished with a solid all-around game with six points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
He noted the Bulldog’s well-coached, unselfish style always makes a Peninsula-Bellevue match-up a tough one.
“(I liked) our intensity,” Bean said. “Everybody played well.”
Killian, a 6-foot-1 freshman who wasn’t playing much in the early season, scored his 11 points in just 15 minutes, hitting three of his four long-range tries.
“He’s working his butt off and understands the game more (than earlier this season),” Stewart said.
The Pirates and Bulldogs go head-to-head in Bellevue Feb. 6, their only other regular-season meeting.
NWAACC North Division standings (as of Jan. 13)
Team Conf. Over.
Peninsula 3-0 12-4
Whatcom 3-0 11-4
Bellevue 3-1 11-5
Edmonds 2-2 5-9
Everett 2-2 10-6
Shoreline 1-2 9-6
Olympic 1-3 3-10
Skagit Vly. 1-3 4-10
Seattle 0-3 3-11
NWAACC Coaches’ Poll
1. Spokane (16-1)
2. Yakima Valley (12-5)
3. Peninsula (12-4)
4. Bellevue (11-5)
5. Southwest Oregon (13-5)
6. Grays Harbor (12-3)
7. Big Bend (13-3)
8. Umpqua (13-4)
Receiving votes: Lower
Columbia (9-5), Clark (9-7), Highline (7-8), Whatcom (11-4)