An early 12-point lead wasn’t enough to carry Peninsula past Centralia and on to an NWAACC trophy Monday morning.
Donald Gaddy led three Pirates in double figures with 12 points, but Centralia, behind Van Lockett’s 24 points, got a big second-half surge to knock Peninsula (18-12) out of the NWAACC tournament on March 4, one game short of the 7th/8th place game.
The Pirates won the NWAACC title two seasons ago and took fourth last winter, but were unable to rebound completely from an opening round loss to Tacoma.
Titans take over, top Pirates
In a matchup pitting two of the last NWAACC champs, Tacoma used muscle — and some strong rebounding — to power past Peninsula 73-60 in the NWAACC opener on March 2.
Dominique Campbell had four blocks, 12 rebounds overall and four of Tacoma’s 18 offensive boards that led to 19 second-chance points. The Titans built a six-point lead by halftime and pulled away down the stretch.
Peninsula kept it close in the final frame, actually taking the lead on a Djuan Smith 3-pointer with 14:52 to play. But Smith got called for a technical foul on the ensuing possession and had to sit with four personals, giving the momentum back to Tacoma.
Julian Vaughn led four Tacoma players in double figures with 16 points.
Smith led Peninsula with 22 points and Xavier Bazile added 20, but together they shot just 12-of-37 from the field. P.C. committed 17 turnovers and got out-rebounded 51-29 in defeat.
Peninsula pounces on Warriors
The Pirates exacted some revenge on Walla Walla on March 3, knocking the Warriors from the tourney with a 77-59 win in the consolation bracket.
The Pirates built a lead as big as 21 points before settling for an 18-point win.
Bazile led Peninsula with 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Smith had 19 points and seven rebounds, and Gaddy added 16 points on seven-of-eight shooting from the field.
Overall the Pirates shot 34-of-65 (52.3-percent) from the field.
Eric Harr led Walla Walla with 15 points.
Lead slips away versus Centralia
Standing between Peninsula and another banner to hang in the gymnasium — the NWAACC’s seventh- or eighth-place honor — was Centralia, the No. 2 team out of the West Division.
Early on, it looked like Peninsula would live to play another day, but Centralia weathered an early storm, coming back from 12 points down in the first half to topple P.C., 70-62, on March 4.
The Pirates went on an 11-0 run to take a 13-4 lead just four minutes into the contest. Centralia cut the lead to two, but Bazile nailed a 3-pointer to put the Pirates up 10 points with 6:29 left in the first half.
Peninsula held a 40-30 lead by halftime.
Centralia came out shooting in the second frame, tearing off a 12-0 run that erased Peninsula’s lead in six minutes of play.
The Blazers hit their final dozen free throws down the stretch, including eight consecutive makes for Lockett.
Beside’s Gaddy’s 12 points, Peninsula got 11 from Bazile, though the Pirate star shot just two-of-13 from the field and hit just one of his nine 3-pointers. Aaron Clark had 10 points and TreShawn King Dunbar added nine points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Centralia went on to top Pierce College for seventh place on March 5.