Gateway: Sports

Strong frontcourt guides Peninsula High girls basketball team

Peninsula senior Lilly Portteus is a stable force down low for the Seahawks.
Peninsula senior Lilly Portteus is a stable force down low for the Seahawks. Staff writer

The Peninsula High girls basketball team has the height to give other teams some problems this season, with 6-foot senior Lilly Portteus playing center and 6-foot sophomore Kirsten Ritchie suiting up at power forward.

Ritchie, who has started the season on the sideline with a nagging injury, expects to be back soon to contribute to what projects to be a solid frontcourt for the Seahawks.

Peninsula, which finished with a 3-17 record a season ago, welcomes former Sumner High girls basketball coach Shane Patrick to the helm, hoping to change the culture of the Seahawks’ program. While this year’s team is still young, Ritchie said she likes what she sees so far.

“Our goal is to be the best that we can be,” Ritchie said. “I think it’s just learning to adapt to this new culture and coaching styles. We have a very different team than we had last year.”

Ritchie has seen an uptick in the collective effort in practice, and hopes it will translate to the games.

“I feel like (Patrick is) really changing the program,” Ritchie said. “It’s a lot more intense this year. A lot of it is the mindset of the girls. We work as a team to push ourselves. I just see a lot of people trying harder in practice. It has a lot to do with how the girls are taking the new culture. I think we’re taking a good turn with it.”

Peninsula already has two wins, beating Vashon Island and Stadium High, before dropping a 41-29 game to Central Kitsap.

“We emphasize hard work every day,” Patrick said. “What you’ll see in our games is pressure defense, full court. Just a faster-paced game than they’re probably used to seeing. So far, it’s been pretty successful. The defensive intensity has been great. We’ll keep ourselves in a lot of games if we can defend.”

Patrick is happy with the team’s willingness to learn.

“We’re really young,” he said. “They’re able to develop. More than anything, they’re pliable and ready to go. It’s been an interesting culture change for them. They’re just learning how to work hard and what it feels like to win games.”

While the team isn’t likely to contend for the Class 3A South Puget Sound League title this season, Patrick is hoping the Seahawks will play solid basketball and continue to improve for the future.

“Realistically, we’ll finish in the top half of our league,” Patrick said. “If everything came together perfect, who knows? I don’t know if we would challenge for a league title, but we could have that opportunity. But in the next couple years, we will, once they figure it out. We’re still getting to know each other in a lot of ways.”