It’s often said that defense and free throws win games in basketball. For Gig Harbor, in its opening round of the Class 3A West Central III/Southwest bi-district tournament against Kelso High School on Wednesday night, the Tides didn’t do either of those things well enough to win the game.
Gig Harbor shot 5 for 14 from the free throw line, while Kelso managed 19 for 25 in a 62-52 winning effort at Timberline High School.
“That’s a huge discrepancy in what was a relatively close game for most of the night,” Gig Harbor coach Billy Landram said.
Gig Harbor indeed kept it close for most of the game, trailing just 25-20 at half and 39-25 heading into the fourth quarter, but every time the Tides made a run, Kelso answered.
“Kelso is a good team,” Landram said. “We had plenty of chances. We really struggled to put the ball in the hole there for a long time. When you’re playing good teams, that hurts you.”
Kelso sophomore guard Riley Noah scored a game-high 20 points and 6-foot-4 sophomore forward Shaw Anderson added 17.
“(Our defense was) not as good as it needed to be,” Landram said. “We knew who their guys were. We lost them a couple times, they made a couple plays. We got it down to six a couple times but they answered every time.”
Gig Harbor senior guard RJ Green scored a team-high 12 points, senior center Patrick Fredrickson scored 10 and senior forward Chad Stevens chipped in eight points.
Now on the losing side of the bracket, Gig Harbor faces an uphill battle to qualify for the 3A state tournament, having to win four games in a row.
“You find out a lot about teams on the loser side of the bracket,” Landram said. “You’ve got to be ready to battle. A lot of times, it’s whoever wants it more. It’s just whoever is ready to go.”
Gig Harbor will face North Thurston at 6 p.m. Friday (Feb. 10) at Capital High School in a loser-out game next.
PRAIRIE 56, PENINSULA 44
Peninsula didn’t have much luck in the district tournament opening round, either, against a tough Prairie team on the road in Vancouver, losing 56-44.
The Falcons came into the game with a 18-2 record and posted a perfect 10-0 mark in the 3A Greater St. Helens League.
Junior guard Elijah McLaughlin led the Seahawks with 15 points, while Nate Thompson added 10.
Peninsula will face Stadium at 7:45 p.m. Friday (Feb. 10) at North Thurston High School in a loser-out game next.