Now in her 12th season, PC women’s hoops head coach Ali Crumb is looking to a strong recruiting class to accompany a returning class of only two, sophomores Amari Brown and Cheyenne Wheeler.
The Pirates have struggled with injuries since training began in October — and, in recent days, the cancellation of games thanks to a COVID outbreak — but Crumb said she’s hopeful for the season and thankful to get her team back on the court.
“Basketball has meant more to us this year than ever, and we fight every day to protect the integrity of the game,” she added. “This spring season is to get us better, to come together as a team, and to build something special for next year as we strive for another NWAC tournament. We’re fortunate to play every game that we get this year, and we appreciate the opportunity, win or lose.”
It was just a year ago when the Pirate women’s basketball team traveled to Everett to play in their sixth straight NWAC championship tourney. Peninsula went 11-3 in the North Region and 18-7 overall in 2019-20, but the tournament was called off when Everett was named the U.S.’s ground zero for an outbreak of a novel coronavirus called COVID-19.
Northwest Athletic Conference officials then moved the tournament to Oregon, and the Pirates headed south, only to be turned back again when the entire region shut down, without playing a single game.
While no champion will be officially crowned this spring, Crumb hopes to have the Pirates back in the postseason in 2021-22.
“We have a very balanced recruiting class,” Crumb said. “They are athletic, fast, and complement each other very well. We are a little injury battled, but the team has stayed tough and competed every day for the last six months. They are hungry and ready to compete and I think they will put a very exciting product on the floor.
“Expect a lot of transition up and down the floor, as well as tough in your face defense.”
Brown, a sophomore from Anchorage, Alaska, will be the only returning sophomore on the floor, as Port Angeles’ Wheeler is out with a torn ACL.
“Amari has proved to be a key leader for us this year and will play a pivotal role throughout this season,” Crumb said. “We have a lot of really great freshman this year, as we have a very young team, but local star Hope Glasser (freshman, Sequim) has stood out as an incredible leader and workhorse. She has improved so much already, and we will need her energy and toughness all season long.
“Arriyanna Camacho-Villafuerte (freshman, Anchorage, Alaska) has also proven to be a solid point guard who can shoot, attack, and handle the ball. It doesn’t hurt that they are both lefties.”
The rest of the roster, all freshmen, include: Tayvia Cabatbat (Hilo, Hawaii), Tatianna Kamae, (Laie, Hawaii), Tasiah Little (Blanding, Utah), Kimora Nicado (Anchorage), Daisy Owens (St. George, UT), and Keeli-Jade Smith (Hilo, HI).
In addition to Wheeler, Taylor Hinds (Hyde Park, Utah), Mackenna Sargent (Stansbury Park, Utah) and Kayla Villamor (Unalaska, Alaska) are all out with injuries.
Assisting coach Crumb again this year will be Gabi Fenumiai and Mike Knowles.
The Pirates will be live streaming all home games on NWACsportsnetwork.com and the NWAC and the State Health Department are still exploring whether or not to allow fans. Either way, PC fans are encouraged to go to printedfans.com and click on the Peninsula College link to order their cutout so they can be in our gym either way. It’s a fund raiser to support Pirate basketball.
The games will take place with all of the COVID safety protocols outlined by the state, NWAC, county and college officials.
“The reality of this pandemic is hard to explain,” Crumb said. “The things this team has had to go through is something that no team in the history of Peninsula College has had to go through. We have had to quarantine multiple times, played through different phases of practice just to get to full team practice, and have been practicing with a mask on for six months.
They are not able to go home and visit their family, they can’t have visitors come see them, and they have lived in isolation thousands of miles away from their homes. I can’t imagine what that would be like in my first year as an adult.”
“On the positive side, this team is one of the closest teams I have ever coached. They are so humble and thankful to be able to play, and have an unprecedented appreciation for the game of basketball and for their Pirate Family. Win or lose, I will always remember this team and what they have sacrificed to be here.”
Pirates at a glance
Head coach: Ali Crumb (12th season)
2019-2020 record: 11-3 in conference (third in North Division, 18-7 overall
Returners: Amari Brown, Cheyenne Wheeler*
Newcomers: Tayvia Cabatbat, Arriyanna Camacho-Villafuerte, Hope Glasser, Taylor Hinds*, Tatianna Kamae, Tasiah Little, Kimora Nicado, Daisy Mackenna Sargent*, Daisy Owens, Keeli-Jade Smith, Kayla Villamor*
* — injured
Pirates drop first two games
Peninsula’s women dropped their season-opener, a 51-36 decision at Skagit Valley on March 31.
Keeli-Jade Smith led the team with 10 points while former Sequim High standout Hope Glasser added eight points and five rebounds, but the Cardinals held PC to just 20.3 percent shooting (12-of-59) for the game.
Melissa Frein led Skagit with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
Peninsula saw Everett spoil their home opener on April 3, edging PC 48-43 on the Pirates’ new gymnasium floor.
Sydney VanNess paced the Trojans with 23 points.
Smith led the way for PC with 19 points on 9-of-19 shooting, and added seven rebounds. Glasser had three steals while teammates Ariyanna Camacho-Villafuerte, Tayvia Cabatbat and Tasiah Little had three assists apiece.
The next action Peninsula could see is a rematch with Skagit Valley at home on April 17.