Peninsula High rode strong defense and consistent offensive play to a 54-37 road win over crosstown rival Gig Harbor on Friday night.
The game was close early on, with Gig Harbor sophomore center Drew Parrish finding easy looks around the rim and an electric student section supporting the Tides.
But Peninsula stayed composed, battling back and retaking the lead in the first quarter. Peninsula didn’t trail the rest of the game.
“It feels good, especially it their place,” said Peninsula senior forward Seth Kasteler, who finished with a team-high 15 points for the Seahawks. “We knew it was going to be loud, and they were going to want to punch us the first four minutes of the game. They did. We just kept working and we knew to stay composed and came back.”
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The game turned around when Robles put 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Kaleb Lichau in the game. Lichau threw a block party for the rest of the game, swatting shots away and limiting Gig Harbor’s looks in the key.
“All week, coach has been talking about ‘95 percent,’” Lichau said. “It means that 95 percent of the time on the court, you don’t have the ball. I’m just trying to live up to that. That’s all.”
Robles heaped praise onto his sophomore after his stellar defensive effort.
“Holy cow — he did a great job,” Robles said. “Kaleb had an outstanding game. He did everything we asked him to do and then some. He executed the game plan. He had numerous altered shots. And then a couple baskets, a couple rebounds. He’s coming along very nicely.”
Gig Harbor hit six 3-pointers in the first half, with Sam Miller and Jared Brinkman both hitting two each before halftime. Kasteler quietly filled up the stat sheet throughout the game. But mostly, Peninsula relied on stifling defense.
“We knew that they don’t do a great job of getting open shots,” Kasteler said. “They drive, we talked about how all of their points were coming from the free throw line and off second chance points. If we stop those two things, they’re not scoring easily.”
Whenever Gig Harbor threatened to come back — like when Gig Harbor’s Kaden Garnaas hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter to cut the lead to five — Peninsula answered.
“Credit to our boys,” Robles said. “They had some composure and some poise. Basketball is a game of runs. If we can have some poise when they go on theirs and just execute and do the little things, we think we put ourselves in a good position to win. We did tonight.”
After starting 0-2 in the Class 3A South Sound Conference with losses to Timberline and Capital, Peninsula (4-2 overall, 2-2 SSC 3A) has bounced back convincingly, beating Yelm on Tuesday, 62-41, before handing Gig Harbor (2-4, 1-3) the loss on Friday.