The Peninsula High School boys basketball team had a successful trip to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for its end-of-year holiday tournament, posting a 2-1 record at the Lake City Invitational.
The most challenging part of the tournament? The travel.
The trip to Idaho took more than seven hours, said Peninsula coach Matt Robles, thanks to a jackknifed semitrailer on Interstate 90. The team missed its scheduled practice and barely made it in time for dinner.
Then, on the return trip, the cold took its toll.
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“By the time we got to Moses Lake, it was basically an ice rink,” Robles said. “It was bad.”
For the safety of his players, Robles made the call to put the drive home on delay. The team got a hotel in Moses Lake and came back the next day. All told, it took around 23 hours to get home.
“It took a while, but our trip was good,” Robles said. “I can’t complain. It was fun. We had a blast.”
And the team posted a couple quality wins, too. Peninsula opened the tournament on Dec. 27 with a 55-50 win over Timberline (Idaho), before falling to Post Falls, 79-56 the following day. But the Seahawks bounced back with a 69-63 win over Coeur d’Alene on the final day.
“Considering everything, it was a really good weekend,” Robles said. “We didn’t get to practice because of travel problems. So to just be able to go out and find a way to win was a lot of fun.”
Peninsula senior Seth Kasteler scored 31 points against Timberline and 24 against Coeur d’Alene.
“He had a nice tournament,” Robles said. “When he plays to his strengths — which is mainly attacking the rim — he’s really good. When he doesn’t, he doesn’t have the same success. I think he learned how good he can be when he has the right frame of mind.”
Robles has emphasized faster starts to games. He was mostly pleased with what he saw in that regard, with the exception of the game against Post Falls.
“We saw a little progress,” Robles said. “A couple games, we started great. We had good energy, good focus. Against Post Falls, we didn’t. You can’t do that against a really good team. We got our butts kicked by Post Falls. That was a good experience for us. They were shooting lights out against us. We ran out of gas. That was a good eye opener, to see some of the state’s top-level competition.”
In both of its wins, Peninsula had to fight back in the fourth quarter. Peninsula went down by four in the fourth quarter against Timberline, and went down by sixth in the fourth quarter against Coeur d’Alene. The Seahawks won both games.
Learning how to win those types of games could prove to be valuable experience when Peninsula jumps back into league play in the Class 3A South Sound Conference.
“Our league is really, really good,” Robles said. “I don’t think it gets enough credit. Everyone is really good. Every game is going to be a battle and a grind. We need to a find a way to win close games. So it was nice to claw our way back, fight and win, even when we weren’t shooting the best, at times.”
Now that the winter break has come to an end, Peninsula will get back into its normal routine again. Peninsula hosts Central Kitsap on Friday (Jan. 5) at 7 p.m. after re-opening its league schedule against Shelton on Wednesday.
“The routine of practicing after school — kids take that for granted,” Robles said. “To get back into that routine, get back to classes, it’ll be great. We’re champing at the bit to see what we’re made of.”