On Wednesday, I was at the Peninsula High School gym to watch a little girls basketball, and I came away thoroughly impressed with the Seahawks' team defense.
Coach Steve Jacobson has his girls playing well thus far — their three wins in four games thus far matches the program's win total from all of last season.
The wins haven't come against any heavyweights, but Peninsula was competitive against league rivals Decatur and Bonney Lake a year ago, and should have a much better chance of beating those teams this time around.
Jacobson said his team played well in the first half of a 56-29 loss to Central Kitsap earlier this week, but CK is easily the best offense the Seahawks have faced thus far. Against the trio of North Mason, Washington and Franklin Pierce — Wednesday's foe — Peninsula is allowing 23 points per game.
The Seahawks are learning how to play as a team, and that means not relying constantly on senior guard Leigh Iosia for offensive production. Opponents know Iosia is a good jump shooter and penetrator, and Jacobson said when defenses concentrate too much on her, the Seahawks are recognizing it.
That showed up in the box score against Franklin Pierce as senior post Tyler Stolz and senior guard Raequel Bitten each scored eight points to match Iosia's total.
Peninsula takes a week off before hosting Bremerton at 7 p.m. Wednesday, then goes on the road to Kingston at 7 p.m. Friday. The 3A SPSL schedule starts Tuesday, Dec. 18 at Bonney Lake.
Below is the story I've written about the Peninsula-Franklin Pierce game for the Gateway's Dec. 12 print issue. My apologies on not having any photos — our filing system is being quite cantankerous today and isn't allowing anything online.
In three of the season’s first four games, the Peninsula Seahawks girls basketball team has made life miserable for opposing offenses.
The Seahawks were stingy once again in Wednesday’s nonleague contest against the Franklin Pierce Cardinals, and broke away from a close game at halftime to record a 40-22 victory at Peninsula High.
After four games, Peninsula is 3-1 and has held North Mason, Washington and Franklin Pierce under 30 points.
“Our ball pressure was exceptional, and we were forcing turnovers just on passes to the wing,” coach Steve Jacobson said. “We were able to set the tone defensively, and then that allowed us to get more comfortable.”
The Seahawks used their superior size to dominate the Cardinals down low, although Franklin Pierce had a big advantage in attempted free throws. In the second half alone, Peninsula was called for 10 fouls to Franklin Pierce’s four.
The game may have been tightly officiated, but senior post Tyler Stolz said the Seahawks didn’t change their game plan because of it.
“Our offense is built that way,” she said. “It’s really snazzy, and it’s built that way so we don’t have to make that many adjustments.”
Stolz scored eight points to share game-high honors with teammates Raequel Bitten and Leigh Iosia. Stolz’s biggest basket came in the third period, when she sank an 18-foot jump shot to give Peninsula its first double-digit lead, 28-18.
Playing in her first game of the season, Bitten did plenty of damage. Twice in the fourth quarter, she scored on back-door layups off assists from Iosia. Bitten was also a defensive spark, keeping the Cardinals from setting up their offense early in the shot clock.
“To have Raequel and Toni (Helwig) to be able to pick up the ball full-court like that ... it makes it difficult because it wears the point guard down,” Jacobson said.
Bitten could prove to be Peninsula’s most valuable reserve by season’s end, her coach indicated.
“We end up putting the fastest, quickest player on the floor a couple minutes into the game after everybody else has started and is a little bit tired,” Jacobson said. “She’s kind of a dual threat because of her speed.”
After a first quarter in which both teams struggled to convert shots, Peninsula used a 7-0 run in the second period to gain some breathing room. Just before the halftime buzzer, Iosia blocked a Cardinals layup attempt to preserve her team’s 18-11 lead.
Iosia hasn’t been a scoring machine thus far, but the Seahawks said she’s been playing unselfishly and finding other ways to contribute.
Jacobson said opponents are aware of Iosia’s offensive capabilities, even Jake Tyrrell, Franklin Pierce’s first-year coach.
“They’re going to spend so much time worrying about her, well, we’ll find different ways of getting her the ball,” Jacobson said. “and then we’ll get everybody else involved and give them good shots at close range.”
“We work really, really well as a team, and we know when to take the ball ourselves and when to give it to other people,” Stolz added.
The Seahawks avenged a 2011 loss to Franklin Pierce.
“After the way we played against them last year, we kind of talked about coming out and playing a completely different game,” Jacobson said. “I think them switching to man (defense) was probably the end of the game, because we were able to get a bunch of layups.”