After missing out on the playoffs a season ago, the Gig Harbor High School boys basketball team is back in the postseason this year.
Gig Harbor’s 46-43 road win over crosstown rival Peninsula on Thursday night sealed the No. 5 seed in the Class 3A South Sound Conference for the Tides. And to make it even sweeter, Gig Harbor earned the two-game sweep over Peninsula this season, returning the favor after dropping both contests to the Seahawks a season ago.
“Last year, they got it on us,” said Gig Harbor senior guard Kaden Garnaas. “So this year, it was one of our main goals to come in and sweep them. That’s what we did, both times.”
It wasn’t a pretty win for the Tides, as Gig Harbor trailed into the fourth quarter. Down 42-41, Garnaas took advantage of a teammate’s steal and sprinted down the court, finishing at the other end to give Gig Harbor a 43-42 lead with eight seconds left.
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“We had to share the ball, play our game,” said Gig Harbor senior center Drew Parrish, who finished with eight points. “We’ve been playing good ball where we’ve been sharing the ball, getting everyone good shots. But we had gotten to a point in the third quarter where we won’t scoring because we were taking the first shot every time. We finally started moving the ball. When we play together, we’re hard to stop.”
It didn’t help that Gig Harbor had to contend with Peninsula’s 6-foot-8 shot-blocking machine in junior Kaleb Lichau.
“He’s a presence,” said Peninsula coach Matt Robles. “Everyone knows he’s there. If he doesn’t block it, he alters it. He’s come a long way since his freshman year and even since the start of this year. To see his growth and his potential, it’s pretty exciting for his future.”
Garnaas said Lichau presented some problems for Gig Harbor.
“It changes the game,” he said. “On other teams, you’re going in and making layups and you’re able to get those shots off close to the hoop. When you have Kaleb in there, you’re more, taking it in, jump stop, kick out. Or pump fake. It just changes everyone’s rhythm, how they go to the hoop and everything. Drew (Parrish) played great in there. For the most part, it just changes stuff around, but we managed.”
While Gig Harbor is the league’s lowest-seeded playoff team, the Tides are fully expecting to make a playoff run. Gig Harbor started slowly this season with its young roster, but has since turned things around.
“We have lots of good players,” Parrish said. “It was mostly just learning to play together. We had guys putting up big numbers, having high scoring games, but when we had guys scoring 18 or 20 points, we weren’t winning as much because we were playing alone. When we started playing more even distribution and scoring, we started really tearing it up, because we were sharing the ball better and getting open shots, playing for each other instead of ourselves.”
Gig Harbor 12 13 2 19--46
Peninsula 13 10 9 11--43
Gig Harbor: Garnaas 16, Raquiza 13, Parrish 8, Owens 5, Hollenbeck 2.
Peninsula: Spurlock 15, Lichau 9, Rupert 8, Bockhorn 7, Jackson 4.