Peninsula High senior guard and Oregon State commit JaQuori McLaughlin was limited against Kennedy Catholic on Monday night with a sprained ankle.
But that didn’t mean he didn’t play a vital role in the Seahawks’ game plan. McLaughlin, embracing a facilitating role, scored just nine points, but it mattered little as the rest of the Seahawks were able to fill the scoring sheet en route to a 69-60 victory at the Kennedy Christmas Classic tournament.
Senior Garrett Kingman led the Seahawks with 20 points, while senior and brother Austin Kingman added 19. Senior center Jimmy Ritchie scored 14.
Peninsula (8-0 overall, 4-0 SPSL 3A) was bounced from the state playoffs the last two seasons by Kennedy Catholic. It was nice for the players to finally exorcise those demons.
“That’s always a motivator,” Ritchie said. “You don’t want to let a team beat you at any time. But once they’ve already done it, it’s a motivator. It drove us a little bit.”
Every time the Kennedy Catholic (6-4, 4-1 Seamount 3A) threatened to make a run, Peninsula stayed calm and composed, answering each time.
“We’ve grown a lot,” Austin Kingman said. “Our chemistry, just noticing what we’re doing — calming down when we need to calm down, speeding up when we need to speed up. We’ve just made a lot of adjustments. Our team is bonding more on the floor.”
McLaughlin had no issue letting his teammates score on Monday night, putting them in positions to be successful.
“JaQuori is doing a great job passing the ball,” Austin Kingman said. “He knows we have many threats on offense. When we have an opening, he’s doing a great job finding the open guy and being the true point guard that he is.”
Kennedy Catholic tried to throw different pressures and presses at Peninsula, but with the exception of the sloppy final few minutes of the game, nothing proved very effective.
“(Our team has) been through a lot,” Peninsula coach Jake Jackson said. “They’ve learned a lot about what to do under pressure, just being calm, cool, collected. From there, try to exploit what their press is or their half-court is. I thought tonight, we did a great job of improving the rebounding war, dominating on the glass, getting second chance points offensively, but also just giving them one shot. I thought from a rebounding perspective, we did a great job.”
Peninsula has gotten off to an impressive undefeated start, beating several winning 3A programs such as Foss, Wilson, and now Kennedy Catholic.
“We’re feeling pretty good but we’re still hungry,” Ritchie said. “We’ve got to keep working and getting better.”
Peninsula’s immediate goal will be to knock off Auburn Mountainview (7-0, 4-0) for the SPSL 3A title. The long-term goal is to win the 3A state title.
“We’re feeling pretty confident ... we’ve played some pretty good teams,” Austin Kingman said. “But if we want to win state like we want to do, we have to step up.”