That’s all Peninsula High School senior guard Belle Frazier could say after Peninsula’s 51-49 over crosstown rival Gig Harbor on Thursday night.
It was Frazier’s first win against Gig Harbor in her high school career and it just happened to decide the Class 3A South Sound Conference title.
“It feels amazing,” Frazier said. “I’m going to hold on to this one for a long time. I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s incredible. We’ve been working toward this all season. After taking that first loss to Gig Harbor, it just stuck with us and we were hungry.”
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Gig Harbor, indeed, won the first meeting between the schools on Jan. 9. While Peninsula has been a program on the rise the past two seasons, the Seahawks have still played second fiddle to the Tides, including last year, when Gig Harbor swept Peninsula during the regular season and went on to win the Class 3A state title.
“It’s almost surreal,” said second-year Peninsula coach Mike Schick. “Since I took over, (Gig Harbor has) been the standard. We had a little sour taste in our mouths from the last one. I wasn’t trying to have it be this close and exciting, but we gave the people what they came for.”
The script very nearly remained the same, however. Gig Harbor was in control for much of the game, with various defensive looks from Tides’ coach Megan Murray keeping Peninsula out of rhythm offensively.
Down 49-41 with under three minutes to play, the outlook appeared bleak for Peninsula.
“I was a little worried,” Frazier said. “But deep down, I felt like we still had it.”
Peninsula sophomore guard Piper Bauer, who up until that point, had an unusually rough night shooting the basketball, stepped up when it counted most, knocking down a 3-pointer to pull Peninsula within five with just over two minutes to go. Renee Doss scored twice in the game’s final two minutes, including the go-ahead score with 50 seconds remaining, and Frazier hit two key free throws down the stretch to seal the deal for the Seahawks.
Out of all the big shots Peninsula hit in the final three minutes of the game, Bauer’s 3-pointer was the catalyst for the comeback.
“I just knew that I had to keep shooting, because one of them is going to fall,” Bauer said. “I just try not to get down on myself. That (3-pointer) was a big momentum changer for us.”
Frazier felt the momentum change right then, too.
“After missing those shots earlier in the game, it takes a lot for a player to keep up that mental strength, to keep shooting,” Frazier said. “To have her step up like that, it was huge for our team.”
With two seconds to go, Gig Harbor had one final chance. Senior guard Brynna Maxwell, who scored a game-high 20 points, heaved a shot from long distance, as time expired. But the shot went just wide, sending Peninsula’s players and fans into a frenzy.
Frazier has seen enough brilliance from Maxwell over the years to be understandably nervous when the final shot left her hand.
“I was so scared,” Frazier said with a laugh. “Normally, she’d knock that down. It was a miracle. We were all sending prayers up.”
The Seahawks are league champions, and perhaps no one is more deserving or grateful of that honor than Frazier, who has been the face of the program since she stepped on campus as a freshman.
“She is Peninsula basketball,” Schick said. “I credit a lot of the stuff she’s done helping put us on the map. Now, she finally has a really good supporting cast. Last year was kind of the start of it. Coming into this year, we just kept it rolling. She’s got help but to go through everything she’s gone through, it means the world. I just told her how proud I am of her and the way she’s handled everything.”
There’s a chance the two teams could meet in the postseason. Regardless of who Peninsula ends up facing in the West Central III district tournament, the players expect this win to a be a reminder of what they can accomplish.
“I think it’ll give us a lot of confidence going forward,” Frazier said. “Knowing that we came back on this one shows we can come back on any game. Just to keep playing with heart, no matter what the score is.”
GIG HARBOR 11 9 19 10--49
PENINSULA 6 16 13 18--51
Gig Harbor: Maxwell 20, Langworth 8, McReynolds 8, Neil 4, Edwards 3, Berry 2, Mamea 2, Emery 2.
Peninsula: Frazier 18, Doss 16, Bauer 6, Lovrovich 4, Pappuleas 4, McKinney 2, Richter 1.