The Peninsula High boys basketball team was up to its usual ways against crosstown rival Gig Harbor High School on Monday, riding its suffocating 2-3 zone to another big win, 50-31 over the host Tides.
Peninsula, now 14-0 on the season, held Gig Harbor to eight first half points, taking a 31-8 lead into the locker room.
“Our defense is really important to our team,” said 6-foot-9 senior center Jimmy Ritchie. “We take a lot of pride in locking our opponent down. It’s a good feeling knowing you can shut people down when you put your mind to it.”
Last week, the Peninsula defense held SPSL 3A powerhouse Auburn Mountainview to just 13 points in the first half. The Seahawks’ 2-3 zone is becoming almost impossible for opponents to score against.
“I think it’s just our length, having hands above our waists and guys flying around,” Peninsula coach Jake Jackson said. “We spring everywhere we go and contest every shot with two hands. Teams are getting shots up but they’re all heavily contested. Guys are on assignment, rotating properly when the ball is in the air.”
Peninsula used its big size advantage against Gig Harbor early and often, feeding Ritchie in the post. Ritchie finished with 12 points for the Seahawks — 10 of which came in the first half. Senior guard JaQuori McLaughlin, an Oregon State commit, led all scorers with 16 points.
“We wanted to take advantage of places that you can take advantage of and get a few extra points,” Ritchie said of his teammates getting him the ball in the first half. “That’s obviously something we were looking at.”
Gig Harbor (5-10 overall, 1-6 Narrows 4A) was without perhaps its best player, Sam Gagliardi. UCLA baseball commit Mike Toglia, who has had a big year for the Tides, went down in the second quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return in the second half.
The Gig Harbor High School gym was packed, and many Peninsula students and fans made the short trip to Gig Harbor High to cheer on the Seahawks.
“This whole year, I have to give a lot of credit to our fans,” Ritchie said. “It’s always packed and loud whenever we’ve played this year.”
Jackson, who inherited a perennial loser which he’s built into a 3A state-title contender, has noticed the buzz surrounding his senior-heavy team this season.
“The community support has been a buildup,” Jackson said. You look at the last 44 months: Every year, there’s been more people trying to help out or come to our games. The energy surrounding our program is at an all-time high.”
Gig Harbor senior guard Sam Lovrak and junior forward Avery Jones led the Tides with 11 points apiece.