Don’t look now, but the Peninsula High School girls team is having itself quite a season. With last week’s 55-53 win over Shelton and 75-54 win over Central Kitsap, the Seahawks have now posted a 10-1 overall record and sit at 5-1 in the Class 3A South Sound Conference, with the only loss coming to presumptive league favorite Gig Harbor.
There are several possible explanations for Peninsula’s success. First-year coach Mike Schick has brought a high-energy, full-court pressing and trapping style to the team, which has been effective in generating turnovers and speeding teams up into an uncomfortable tempo. Peninsula has a host of solid players this season, including senior center Kirsten Ritchie, averaging 9.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, as well as sophomore Renee Doss, freshman Piper Bauer, senior Paige Palagyi and others. Peninsula’s program has been gaining steam and steadily improving the past few seasons, as well.
But perhaps the simplest and most obvious explanation for Peninsula’s hot start is the stellar play of junior Belle Frazier, who just passed the 1,000 career points mark. Frazier is averaging 23.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 6.3 steals and 2.2 assists per game. In Peninsula’s two-point win over Shelton last week, Frazier posted a triple-double with 36 points, 12 rebounds and 11 steals.
“We have a lot of speed and length,” Schick said. “Having Belle up top, it’s huge. She has long arms. The girls are buying in and believing that we’re going to do this. We have a really good player in Belle and good role players around her. … All the girls have been buying into the hard work paying off. We’ve been trying to change their mindset to real aggressive, playing at a high speed. They’ve been working really hard.”
Peninsula was successful last season, but the early returns indicate this team is a different beast this season. The players credit the coaching atmosphere.
“Our focus and intensity is definitely up a level from last year,” Frazier said. “It’s been huge for us.”
Whether it’s full-court man-to-man or a 1-3-1 trap, Peninsula has kept opponents on their toes all season.
“When we first met with the girls in May, when I took the job, all summer we were getting after it in full-court man-to-man,” Schick said. “I don’t mind giving up some layups and fast breaks. It’s kind of a gamble. For the most part, it’s paid off. The girls like it. It gets the girls away from being in a lull. We keep our energy level up, it just speeds teams up. Hopefully we continue it and do well.”
Peninsula hosts North Thurston on Wednesday (Jan. 10) before a critical road tilt with third-place Timberline on Friday night. Tipoff for both games is set for 7 p.m.