Perhaps the most intriguing player on the Peninsula High School boys basketball roster is also one of its youngest: 6-foot-6 sophomore Kaleb Lichau.
Lichau, a forward, played sparingly off the bench last season as a freshman but has earned more minutes as a sophomore. Through 10 games, he’s averaging 3.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 16 minutes per game. While not eye-popping numbers, Lichau’s height has made him a valuable weapon on both ends of the floor for the Seahawks and Peninsula coach Matt Robles.
The best example of this may have been against crosstown rival Gig Harbor on Dec. 15, when Lichau came into the game off the bench and quickly neutralized Gig Harbor’s interior offense, swatting away shots and forcing Gig Harbor to change its shot selection to lower percentage outside shots.
“It’s valuable,” teammate Seth Kasteler said after the game against Gig Harbor. “Once the defense breaks down, we need a shot blocker like that. He’s huge so it’s an easy block for him. He’s good at getting big, not letting people body him.”
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Lichau’s game is still a bit unpolished, but the potential is clearly there.
“He’s got a lot of upside,” Robles said. “We’re very excited about his future. I think the sky is the limit with him. He can do a lot of things. He can go inside, he can shoot it from the outside. He’s just going to keep getting better and better.”
With Lichau’s height and long wingspan, he’s in a unique position that most high school post players aren’t: He doesn’t necessarily need to be physical all the time.
“We tell him every day: You’re the tallest guy on the floor,” Robles said. “You don’t need to necessarily be physical with everyone. Just go straight up, use your length and if you’re not going to block it, you’re probably going to alter their shot.”
As Lichau continues to improve, he figures to be an important piece down the stretch for the Seahawks and especially during his junior and senior seasons.
“All my life, I’ve been tall,” Lichau said. “I love it. On the court, it’s just fun. It comes to me. I try to utilize it.”
And while senior Seth Kasteler is the clear focal point of the offense, senior Elijah McLaughlin continues to play solid basketball, seniors Sam Miller and Jared Brinkman lead the squad and junior Tyler Spurlock continues to emerge as a high-energy player on both sides of the floor, Lichau can quietly continue fulfilling his role, unburdened by unfair expectations. That’s just fine with Robles.
“Boy, it’s nice to have him on our team,” Robles said. “He’s coming along very nicely.”