In mid-January, Peninsula forward Belle Frazier broke her nose in practice, after teammate Piper Bauer’s head slammed into Frazier’s nose. If anyone in the league thought that was going to slow her down or keep her out, they must not know her too well.
Frazier had surgery to repair her nose the morning of Jan. 19. That night, she suited up to play Yelm. She scored over 20 points, leading her team to a 70-53 win.
“Ball is life,” Frazier said, with a laugh.
She had to wear a protective mask after her surgery. She’s still rocking the mask, and she’s still leading her team to big wins. Frazier scored 21 points on Wednesday night to lead Peninsula to a 50-33 win over Lakes in the opening round of the Class 3A West Central III/Southwest bi-district tournament.
It wasn’t the prettiest win. Peninsula led 17-11 at half. Neither team could buy a bucket.
“I don’t know if there was an imaginary lid on the basket tonight or just a little bit of playoff jitters,” said Peninsula coach Mike Schick. “The shot selection, I was happy with. We were getting shots inside the paint. We were trying to hammer it out, use some of our size and strength.”
But for whatever reason, the shots weren’t falling. Frazier said she thought playoff jitters may have played a role.
“I think we were just a little rattled with the whole idea of the playoffs,” Frazier said. “All day, we’ve been hearing ‘Girls are in playoffs.’ I think it just kind of got to us.”
But the tide turned in the second half. Peninsula scored 33 of its 50 points after the break. The Seahawks played looser and got out in transition more often.
“We went man-to-man, which helped us get some more steals and fast breaks, which was huge,” Frazier said. “We just kind of settled down a little bit, started to play more together as a team.”
Schick said he didn’t have to say much in the locker room at halftime.
“We were kind of just laughing in the locker room,” Schick said. “I have a great group of girls who know what they need to do. They do a lot of self-correcting and have high basketball IQ’s. So they already knew what I was going to say before I went in there, which makes my job a lot easier.”
Esther Pappuleas and Piper Bauer each chipped in eight points for the Seahawks, while Kirsten Ritchie and Linsey Lovrovich added 4 each.
For Lakes, Tatiana Sparks scored a team-high 13 points, while freshman Amber Nealy added nine points off the bench.
Defensively, Peninsula was locked in from the beginning. The Seahawks held the Lancers to just 11 points in the first half, and 33 points overall.
“It was good team defense,” Schick said. “Since I started here, we’ve been really preaching team defense. Controlling the defensive boards. A lot of times, we get caught ball watching. It’s something we’ll continue to work on for as long as I’m here, and get them into that gritty mentality.”