Peninsula (8-6 overall, 4-4 Class 3A South Sound Conference) kept it close against visiting Timberline (11-3, 7-1) on Friday night in Purdy.
The Seahawks led at the end of the first, second and third quarters.
But eventually Timberline, led by Wichita State signee Erik Stevenson and senior guard Eli Morton, found a way to pull out a 62-52 win. Timberline outscored Peninsula 20-6 in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
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Stevenson’s 3-pointer tied the game up at 46 apiece, and Hunter Campau’s 3-pointer put the Blazers ahead, 51-46. The play of the fourth quarter came with just over three minutes to go, when Stevenson flew through the lane to block a Peninsula shot, which was converted into a fast-break layup by Morton to put the Blazers up 54-46.
“They just got some momentum,” said Peninsula forward Seth Kasteler, who finished with a team-high 12 points. “They had a few big shots to start it off. They had two big threes back to back. That got them going.”
Peninsula didn’t score in the fourth quarter until senior guard Sam Miller hit a 3-pointer with 2:50 to go in the game.
“Credit to them, they applied some pressure and turned it up a little more,” said Peninsula coach Matt Robles. “We struggled with that. We just couldn’t get a clean look at the basket. They had four or five good defensive possessions in a row. They made it tough for us. We couldn’t find a bucket. They separated and we couldn’t recover.”
Peninsula, at times, looked brilliant. The Seahawks, who have been plagued by slow starts early in the season, had no issues at the beginning of this one, jumping out to a 16-10 lead by the end of the first quarter. Peninsula was effective in taking advantage of Timberline’s aggressiveness defensively, finding players for easy backdoor layups off screens from the top of the key, and floating the ball over Timberline’s attempted traps.
“We’re learning, we’re getting better,” Robles said about the team’s fast start.
But then there was the second quarter, in which Timberline’s press forced Peninsula into four turnovers on several of its opening possessions. With Timberline’s athleticism, especially with Stevenson and Morton, the Blazers feed off turnovers.
“(Turnovers) hurt a lot, because they really want to get out in transition and they’re a great team at getting out in transition,” Kasteler said. “When they get the opportunity, they’re going to score on it.”
Stevenson finished with 23 points, while Morton tallied 22 on the night.
“Those guys can play,” Robles said. “We did our best to contain them. I thought we did a pretty good job for about three quarters, and then they got loose, which good players do. They made some shots. They were able to will their team to a victory.”
Peninsula currently sits in fourth place in the South Sound Conference, with several winnable games left on the schedule.
“We just have to grow together and have more trust,” Kasteler said. “You see Timberline, that’s a really trustful team. We have to do that, too. We have two games (this) week; we just have to go hard and execute.”
At some point, close won’t cut it for the Seahawks. Robles hopes the team turns the corner soon and can find a way to win tight games against the league’s best teams.
“Refusing to lose, finding a way to win,” Robles said. “We’re close but we still have to find a way. Just because we’re close doesn’t mean we’re going to win games. That doesn’t mean a thing. We have to find a way to do the little things down the stretch, get stops, not turn the ball over, get good shots, have some composure and poise to win those. We’re close, yes, but we still have a ways to go.”