Peninsula sophomore Taylor Larson’s injury — a partial ACL tear — didn’t keep the North Region’s Most Valuable Player from playing in the NWAACC tourney.
But it did limit her time on the court, and the Pirates could have used more of their star in two close losses in the conference tourney in Kennewick last week.
After dropping a 10-point decision to Centralia in the opening game, Peninsula looked to blow past Yakima Valley in the consolation bracket on March 3. But a tremendous rally by the Yaks tied the game in regulation and gave Yakima Valley all the momentum it needed to drop Peninsula (14-12) from the tourney with an 0-2 mark.
Trailblazers trump Pirates
Italia Mengarelli racked up 16 points, six rebounds and three assists, giving Centralia enough to pull away from Peninsula 59-49 in the NWAACC tourney first round.
The Trailblazers utilized their bench effectively, outscoring P.C. 24-9, and took advantage of 24 Pirate turnovers that translated into 21 points.
Peninsula had the West Division’s top seed on the ropes early, but Centralia battled back for a 34-33 lead at halftime.
Then things fell apart for Peninsula, as the Pirates hit just five of 26 tries from the field (19-percent) and were outscored 25-16.
Larson, nursing that ACL tear, played just 19 minutes and scored eight points.
Jesse Ellis led the Pirates with 15 points while Jasmine Yarde added 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Kristen Schoenherr chipped in 14 points for Centralia.
Yaks come back, upend Pirates
Needing a win to stay alive in the tournament, Peninsula looked in total control against Yakima Valley a day later.
But Yakima Valley made one of the great rallies of the 2012-13 season, coming back from 17 points down to top P.C. 82-71 in overtime and end the Pirates’ campaign.
Sammi Jo Blodgett hit 14-of-22 from the field and scored 35 points, leading the Yaks to victory.
Yarde led Peninsula with 21 points and Ellis added 18 points on eight-of-nine shooting from the field.
The Yaks had just one lead in regulation — a 2-0 advantage on the second play of the game. The Pirates’ lead grew to double digits when Olivia Henderson sank a shot (20-10), and the lead ballooned to 15 after Alison Knowles’ 3-pointer with 90 seconds left in the first half.
A string of Yak baskets, however, brought Peninsula’s lead to single digits with seven minutes remaining in the contest.
With 12 seconds left, Blodgett spotted up on the far side and nailed a deep 3-pointer, bringing the teams even for the first time in more than 35 minutes. Peninsula muffed a chance to win in regulation, and the Yaks dominated overtime to the tune of a 13-2 run.
Then next day Columbia Basin knocked Yakima Valley from the medal round on March 4.