This was again a winner-to-state game, again at Rogers High School, and again the Lincoln boys basketball team had erased a first-half, double-digit deficit to take the lead.
Only this time, it was Peninsula doing the dancing and shouting in the locker room and punching its ticket to state.
JaQuori McLaughlin scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, hitting big shot after big shot as the No.7-ranked Seahawks secured their third state appearance in school history and first since 2008 with a 68-66 wire-to-wire win over No. 6 Lincoln on Friday.
He confirmed it felt pretty good.
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“All of the times we’ve lost in this gym, we just wanted to get to regionals,” McLaughlin said. “All that time we’ve spent in the gym, working hard in the offseason, the time is now.
Peninsula will play Enumclaw in the 3A West Central District 3 semifinals 6 p.m. Wednesday at Rogers, but the Seahawks have secured a berth to the regional round of the state tournament with the victory.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for since our high school careers started,” McLaughlin said.
With Peninsula leading 67-66, the Seahawks’ Garrett Kingman missed two free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining, but teammate Ryder Johnson got the rebound, paused, then took a shot and was fouled.
“I was like ‘Go up! Go up!’ ” Peninsula coach Jake Jackson said. “I think he was so shocked that the ball fell in his hands.”
Johnson made the first free throw, but missed the second, and Brandon Cotton’s heave for the Abes from just beyond halfcourt grazed off the front of the rim.
Peninsula (20-2) set a school record for wins in a season, surpassing the 19 wins by the 1997 Seahawks squad.
This victory came despite missing 6-foot-9 center Jimmy Ritchie, who was out with a foot injury, despite McLaughlin picking up his third foul with 1.8 seconds remaining in the first quarter, and despite Lincoln erasing a 25-14 deficit to take a 34-33 lead at halftime.
Trevante Anderson led the Abes (17-4) with 16 points and Trevion Brown and Alvin Johnson scored 12 apiece.
Brown scored 27 points in last year’s meeting — also in the second round of the 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament — with Lincoln erasing a 10-point deficit to win 68-54.
Lincoln has won the 3A district title three of the past five years, but now heads to the consolation bracket to play Prairie in a loser-out game at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Rogers. The Abes can still clinch a state berth with two wins.
“We haven’t been in this position in a long time,” Abes coach Aubrey Shelton said. “It’s going to show what kind of mental toughness we have. We don’t have time to pout about it. There’s no time to point fingers. We got to be positive and be ready to come together again.”
McLaughlin pushed Peninsula’s lead to 59-51 in the fourth with a 3-pointer from the corner. When Lincoln cut its deficit to 62-61, McLaughlin answered with a drive to the basket for two points.
“He can put the team on his back whenever he wants,” Jackson said. “This year I really challenged him to be a facilitator.
“That was my challenge to him early: Let his teammates touch the leather early. In the second half, when it’s your time to shine, you take over.”
Jackson said McLaughlin had been slowed by two “severely” sprained ankles earlier this season. Also, Ritchie had played with a broken hand before breaking a bone in his right foot, and Kingman played the first eight games of the season with a broken thumb.
“When you look at our team, we are resilient,” Jackson said. “… Then we beat Wilson, beat Foss, beat Kennedy (Catholic), beat Timberline, Auburn Mountainview. We had two bad losses, but our team has kept the composure and the mental toughness and that resiliency is coming through.”
Enumclaw 65, Auburn Riverside 59: Go ahead, scratch your head as to why the Hornets just clinched a state tournament berth. There’s no hiding from their 12-10 record and that they squeaked into the 3A West Central District 3 tournament after placing fifth in the 3A SPSL.
Coach Kellen Hall doesn’t mind it.
“I was joking with these guys,” Hall said. “I said ‘Everybody outside our league is going to give us flack for finishing the season 10-10 and being in fifth place.’ But we’re better than that.
“I told them, ‘There’s always one team that everyone is like, ‘How they heck are they here?’ That is going to be us.”
The Hornets clinched their second state berth since 2013 behind Justus Rainwater’s 24 points and Josh Erickson’s 19. It was the first time Enumclaw had beaten Auburn Riverside in three tries this season.
Enumclaw started the season 2-6. It has won four of its past five games, including a 52-51 win over 3A GSHL champion Columbia River on Wednesday.
No. 7 Peninsula
No. 6 Lincoln
P: JaQuori McLaughlin 24, Elijah McLaughlin 3, Cade McGill 7, Garrett Kingman 16, Ryder Johnson 1, Austin Kingman 12, Josh Keough 5.
L: Tashon Brown 3, DeWitt Hawkins 4, Shon Peterson 4, Brandon Cotton 8, Trevion Brown 12, Trevante Anderson 16, Alvin Johnson 12, Brandon Brown 2, Willie Thomas 5.
E: Anderson 7, Webb 8, Rainwater 24, Garvin 5, Erickson 19.
AR: Prescott 5, Hollingsworth 17, Rivers 2, Kirby 11, Gulchuk 9, Taylor 4, Bethea 11.
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