Opposing teams know that most times down the court, the ball is going to Peninsula forward Seth Kasteler.
It’s no surprise anymore to anyone, given the 6-foot-4 senior’s scoring ability and skillset.
Still, good luck trying to stop him.
Despite the double teams he often sees, and the constant defensive game plans generally geared toward taking him out of the game, Kasteler has thrived in his senior season, averaging 18 points per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 86 percent from the free throw line.
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“I’ve matured a lot physically,” Kasteler said. “It’s helped me with getting myself open, getting my teammates open looks and rebounding.”
Kasteler put on about 15 pounds off muscle in the offseason to his 6-foot-4 frame. The strength addition has paid dividends for the talented slasher.
“It’s stating the obvious — it’s huge,” Peninsula coach Matt Robles said of Kasteler’s added bulk. “Everyone knows that his strength is attacking the rim. He knew he’d have to take some extra wear and tear, some extra bumps. How you usually do that is by being physical. Adding that weight has really helped him with those angles, getting where he wants to get to. He’s pretty tough to stop.”
To Kasteler, the difference has been obvious.
“I could get into the paint easier, pump fake and go through,” Kasteler said. “It helped a lot with getting to the line.”
That’s where Kasteler’s game has shone the most this season — at the charity stripe. He’s shooting 86 percent and averaging close to 10 free throw attempts per game.
“I’m a little surprised I’ve been shooting it that well,” Kasteler admitted. “But that’s what my coaches are always preaching: ‘No one can stop you from the line. It’s free points.’”
Kasteler worked tirelessly on his free throw shooting during the offseason, he said. He would shoot free throws after high-intensity cardio workouts to simulate the fatigue of taking free throws in late-game situations.
“The proof is in the pudding with his stats,” Robles said. “He’s shooting 86 percent and has shot over 100 free throws. That’s beyond incredible. We’re just trying to play to our strengths. Our job as coaches is to put players into positions to be successful. He’s so strong, athletic. He’s really successful at the rim and the free throw line. Why wouldn’t he want to finish at the rim and get easy buckets? Other teams don’t want to take that type of physicality.”
Kasteler has scored more than 30 points twice this season: 31 against Mt. Rainier and the same versus Timberline (Idaho). He scored 24 points in games against Central Kitsap, Coeur d’Alene and Timberline (Washington). And he scored 21 points against Aberdeen.
In short — he has shown the ability to take over in certain games.
“It just was like, I could trust myself,” Kasteler said. “I trusted my skill and my ability. If we need a game to be taken over, I’ll try to do what I can do. But if I try to do too much, that’s not a positive, either. I have to have in my teammates, also.”
It’s a fine line to walk, between taking games over for stretches — which Kasteler can do — and still being a “team first,” unselfish player. It’s something Kasteler is constantly aware of.
“It’s really hard,” Kasteler said. “But my team understands. Robles tells them that I’m the team’s go-to guy. My teammates trust me to do what’s best.”
His teammates keep him in check, too. Veteran teammates like Elijah McLaughlin and Sam Miller aren’t hesitant to get into Kasteler’s ear if he’s not making the pass to an open teammate. Kasteler doesn’t mind that one bit. He said he just wants to help the team win.
“I just want to go as far as we can into districts and hopefully make it to state,” Kasteler said.
If Peninsula (8-6 overall, 4-4 Class 3A South Sound Conference) does find its way into the state tournament, Kasteler will likely be leading the charge.
“I’m just happy for him,” Robles said. “He’s had a heck of a season.”