Peninsula High basketball coach Jake Jackson got a nice Christmas present from his team: a title at the Kennedy Catholic Christmas Classic holiday tournament.
The Seahawks beat Washington, Kennedy Catholic and then knocked off Timberline in the championship game to win the tournament last week. The Seahawks moved to 9-0 overall after winning the tournament.
“It was a big deal,” Jackson said. “Going into that holiday tournament, we were just trying to ignore our opponent, just play Peninsula versus Peninsula and become a better team. It was a huge momentum builder.”
After cruising by Washington in the first game, 64-40, the Seahawks got the opportunity to play Kennedy Catholic, which had knocked the Seahawks out of the Class 3A playoffs the past two seasons. Peninsula won, 69-60.
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Peninsula’s biggest test came in the championship game, against Narrows 4A power Timberline. The Seahawks were down by 10 at halftime after committing 16 first-half turnovers. But Peninsula opened the third quarter on a 12-0 run and eventually won the game, 66-63.
“Come the third quarter, our press and defensive energy gave us a 12-0 run,” Jackson said. “We were just challenging the guys to be every possession players and respecting our opponents.”
Oregon State commit JaQuori McLaughlin, a senior for the Seahawks, sprained his ankle in the opening game against Washington and was limited in the following games against Kennedy Catholic and Timberline. That opened the doors for some other players to shine, most notably senior Garrett Kingman, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“He’s close to doing 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds per game) right now,” Jackson said. “The way he’s rebounding the ball is really impressive. His motor — he’s relentless on both ends of the court. When he’s knocking down shots, there’s so much inside/outside game with (Kingman, Austin Kingman and senior center Jimmy Ritchie).”
The Seahawks will aim to carry the momentum back into league play. Peninsula is currently 4-0 in the Class 3A South Puget Sound League.
“When everyone does their job, everyone is on assignment, working together, it doesn’t matter who gets the credit,” Jackson said. “If we all do our job, we’re a scary team. We haven’t played near our capacity of what we’re capable of doing.”
The Seahawks will likely need to play at least close to their full potential if they want to knock off the undefeated Auburn Mountainview Lions on the road this Friday night at 7 p.m. The Lions bested the Seahawks for the league title last season.
In all likelihood, the two games played between the two schools will decide the league title this season.
“They’re excited to go back,” Jackson sadi. “JaQuori went 0-for-24 last year (at Auburn Mountainview). I know the guys know deep down we’re on a different level. They’re a great team and we respect them. If we play Peninsula basketball, it’s going to be a fun game.”