Friday’s Gig Harbor versus Peninsula High boys basketball game was my first chance to see both teams in a game setting this season. The action didn’t disappoint. Here are a few of my takeaways from the game, which Gig Harbor won, 62-42.
Avery Jones is as versatile a player as I’ve seen in a while.
To think, the 6-foot-6 Washington State baseball commit nearly didn’t come out for the team this year, as he was close to opting out of hoops to focus on getting ready for college baseball. While I would have understood his decision, it would’ve been a shame. Jones can do a little bit of everything on the basketball court. He electrified the visiting crowd with a transition jam in the second half against Peninsula, rebounded well, attacked the rim and drained big shots from behind the arc. When it was all said and done, he finished with a game-high 21 points, including three second-half 3-pointers to lead the Tides to a big rivalry win.
Gig Harbor’s height advantage should win it a lot of games this season.
Watching the two teams warm up, it was obvious how much of a height advantage Gig Harbor held. With the 6-foot-6 Jones and 6-foot-7 senior center Patrick Fredrickson, it was going to be tough for Peninsula to overcome the size discrepancy. While the Seahawks fought the Tides off for three quarters, it eventually became too much to overcome. Having height is one thing, but having talented height is another. Fredrickson and Jones combined for 35 points for Gig Harbor against Peninsula and were all over the boards all night. Look for the pair to continue to be a matchup problem for a lot of teams in the Class 3A South Sound Conference.
Peninsula is young and growing pains will be expected.
The Seahawks actually played a pretty good game, going into the locker room at halftime with a lead and only trailing by five going into the final quarter. But for new coach Matt Robles’ young squad, playing competitively for all four quarters of the game has been an issue. The focus it takes to not let up during any possession, or quarter, over the course of an entire game, is something that takes time. I was impressed with how hard Peninsula played, despite the size disadvantage. This group plays with a lot of fire and heart. Improvement will come.
Peninsula junior Elijah McLaughlin is a leader now.
Out of the shadow of his older brother JaQuori, McLaughlin is enjoying his best season as a Seahawk. He scored a team-high 13 points against Gig Harbor, with six of his points coming at the free throw line. His physical, attacking play got him to the line and he made the most of his opportunities. He’s a leader for Peninsula and should turn into a very good high school player in his last two seasons as a Seahawk.
Keep an eye on Peninsula freshman Kaleb Lichau.
Lichau scored nine points in the first half for the Seahawks after coming in off the bench. All his points were on 3-pointers. For a coach to place his faith in a freshman during a big rivalry game speaks volumes. While Lichau cooled off in the second half, there’s some clear talent there. It will be interesting to see how big of a role he has this season. Even if it’s minor, he’s in position to be a very good high school player in the coming years.
Gig Harbor and Peninsula are in different places right now.
Gig Harbor boasts a 3-1 record in the SSC 3A and looks like a realistic contender. With the loss to Gig Harbor, Peninsula dropped to 0-4 in league and appears to be in full rebuilding mode. While I think Peninsula will improve and pick up some wins in the league, Gig Harbor High is the area’s best bet for a playoff team this season.