With Peninsula senior JaQuori McLaughlin fully embracing his new role this season as facilitator and true point guard, the door has been opened for senior forward Garrett Kingman to score the ball.
He did just that Wednesday night at home, pouring in 25 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in Peninsula’s 62-37 opening round West Central District playoff win over Mount Tahoma.
“Garrett has been our go-to scorer,” Peninsula coach Jake Jackson said. “Shooting threes, midrange, dunking the ball — he does it all.”
Peninsula will next face Lincoln at 6 p.m. Friday (Feb. 12) at Rogers High School in Puyallup. If the Seahawks win, Peninsula will be guaranteed a spot in the regional round of the Class 3A state tournament.
With senior center Jimmy Ritchie currently sidelined with an injury, it’s up to other players to step up and rebound. Even with Ritchie in the lineup, Kingman had been the team’s best rebounder all season long.
“With our defense, we’ve designed it with his length and quick first step, he’s usually on that weak side getting those rebounds,” Jackson said. “Even with Jimmy out, it’s almost like he’s getting more. We’re not missing out on rebounds with Jimmy being gone. It sounds crazy but it shows how much depth we have.”
Peninsula senior Josh Keough has replaced Ritchie in the starting lineup and has performed well.
“Josh has filled in great,” Jackson said. “He’s had five or more rebounds per game. He gives us big dunks, takes charges. He’s doing his job.”
Peninsula held Mount Tahoma to 13-for-50 shooting from the field — just 26 percent.
“I just loved the fight,” Jackson said. “Just the relentless grit and hustle we had.”
Jackson said the team expects to have Ritchie back for regionals and the state tournament, if Peninsula qualifies. Peninsula finds itself in a similar situation as last season. In the same round of the district tournament a season ago, the Seahawks fell to the Abes.
“We started the game last year up 17-2,” Jackson said. “But then we had 25 turnovers. They scored 17 points off our turnovers and had 18 made free throws. They had 35 points off our fouls and our turnovers. With all the guys that are back, our guys want revenge.”
Taking care of the ball will be key against Lincoln, Jackson said.
“They’re very quick, up tempo, they love to trap and press,” Jackson said. “They’ll mix up their defenses. They get their offense through their defense, like us. They have three legit guards in (senior) Trevion Brown, (senior) Brandon Cotton and (sophomore) Trevante Anderson. They’re not as tall or as long as we are. They love to shoot threes and get out in transition. We’ll need to value the ball and dominate rebounding.”
Peninsula senior JaQuori McLaughlin passed 1,600 career points on Wednesday night, with 1,602 points currently. He had already passed the all-time Peninsula scoring record last season. He currently holds more than 10 individual school records, according to Jackson.
“Being his last home game, we wanted to recognize all the things he’s accomplished,” Jackson said. “He’s a legend. He’s the best player to ever come out of Peninsula. He has 56 team wins in four years. Everything that he’s done, he’s just been a winner since day one.”