Five games into their conference schedule, the Peninsula Pirates were sailing along with a perfect record.
By the end of the week, they were fighting to stay in the playoff picture.
Peninsula snapped a mini two-game losing streak with an 84-75 win at home against Edmonds Saturday night, punctuated by a 23-point lead at halftime.
The Pirates (6-2 in conference, 15-6 overall), ranked No. 2 in the NWAACC before tough road losses to Whatcom and Everett earlier in the week, were simply not going to be denied a “W” on Saturday, scorching the nets to the tune of 57-percent shooting in the first half and even better in the second.
Dominick Lozano led the charge with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Clay Greenland missed just two of nine shots to rack up 18 points and seven rebounds.
Christian Harris added eight points and eight assists.
As good as the offense was, the Pirates’ defense —at least in the first half — was nearly as good. Peninsula held the visiting Tritons to just 25 points on 11-of-33 shooting (33-percent) and one made free throw in four attempts.
But the Tritons made a strong surge in the second half, cutting the Pirates’ once 25-point lead to just four points with four minutes left. It took solid free throw shooting, including guard Jesse Bean’s 4-for-4 effort — to seal the win.
Peninsula’s Ernie Grimes chipped in with 14 points, including a pair of key offensive rebounds in the closing minutes, while Bean had seven points and seven assists. Kenyan Chidi Antoinne saw his first minutes of action since being sidelined with a broken foot Dec. 5; he had five points and five rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.
The win runs Peninsula’s home mark to 9-0 this season.
The Pirates open the second half of conference play Jan. 30 at home against Shoreline; Peninsula won at Shoreline Jan. 2 by five (79-74).
Everett sinks Pirates’ ship
The Everett Trojans went early and often to their specialty — the three-point shot — and it worked well enough to knock off a perennial NWAACC North power.
Dirk Snel, Jon Moe and Shawn Wolter combined to hit 14 three-pointers as the Trojans topped Peninsula 95-94.
The Pirates had a chance to tie late but missed a pair of threes and only a tip-in closed the gap to one.
Peninsula coach Peter Stewart said he was “very disappointed in the mental effort” of his team. The loss marred an otherwise spectacular night for three P.C. sophomores. Greenland, the post player from Kanab, Utah, poured in 30 points while Lozano, the shooter from Barrow, Alaska, dropped in 26 points, 15 from beyond the three-point line.
Harris topped both of them as he collected a triple-double. Thanks to long rebounds off missed three-point tries, he garnered a team-high 12 rebounds to go with 18 points and 11 assists.
But it didn’t matter much in the win-loss column as the Trojans simply kept firing from downtown: 47 of their 68 field goal tries were from long range, and while they weren’t making a killing from there (36 percent), the threat of the long shot opened opportunities inside; the Trojans shot 17-of-21 (81-percent) on two-point tries.
Orcas take league lead with 10-point win
It’s Peninsula’s longest regular road trip of the season, and Whatcom’s Orcas gave the Pirates plenty to think about on the long ride home.
A balanced attack saw four Whatcom players in double figures as the Orcas downed Peninsula 71-61 on Jan. 21 to take possession of first place in the NWAACC North division and hand Peninsula its first conference loss in six contests.
Greenland scored 29 points but Bean was the only other teammate in double figures with 10 as the Pirates trailed 32-26 at halftime and couldn’t muster a second-half push.
NWAACC North Division standings (as of Jan. 27)
Team Conf. Over.
Whatcom 7-1 15-5
Bellevue 6-2 14-6
Everett 6-2 14-6
Peninsula 6-2 15-6
Edmonds 3-5 6-12
Olympic 3-5 5-12
Shoreline 3-5 11-9
Skagit Vly. 2-6 5-13
Seattle 0-8 3-16