The Peninsula Pirates basketball show has been a good one this season and the coaching Stewarts have the Pirates poised for a return trip to the NWAACC state tournament next month.
The Pirate men need some late wins to ensure a sixth-straight trip to the 16-team tournament in Kennewick, while the Pirate ladies hope to take a No. 2 seed in the women's tournament for the first time since 2004-2005 when the ladies, under Julie Stewart, won the North Division.
After beating Olympic last week in Bremerton, the Pirate ladies suffered a tough, tough 58-56 loss to Skagit Valley at home Saturday night. The Cards clinched the division championship with the win and now have a 21-1 record, the only loss being to a California team.
Coach Julie, very disappointed with the loss, said, "The game proved we can play with the best, we just have to get it back together and finish strong."
The Pirate ladies are 9-3 in second place going into tonight's game. They are one ahead of Bellevue and Whatcom, two up on Everett and face both teams - Saturday at Whatcom, next Wednesday at Everett.
The Pirate men lost to Skagit after beating Olympic and find themselves in a tie for fifth place, tied with Seattle at 6-6 and one behind Whatcom. Only the top-four teams go to state and the Pirates face teams they have beaten.
Coach Peter Stewart has created quite a history for each team to follow. Last year, the North Division champs finished fourth at the NWAACC tournament. Year before that, it was second place in the division, fifth at the tourney, and the 2005-2006 team was second in the division but did not place in the postseason.
In 2004-2005, the peninsula men were North champs and seventh in the tourney. In 2003-2004, North champs once again and third in the tourney. Back in 1999-2000, coach Mark Amaral's team won their division and placed sixth at the NWAACC finals, so it's been a nice run for the Bucs.
Everyone who follows Pirate basketball knows that the Pirates won the community college title in 1970, their only state crown, but the tournament was much different in those days.
Fun to watch
Peninsula hosts North Seattle tonight and the two games for the price of one are an entertainment bargain beginning at 5 p.m.
Coach Julie has assistant coaches Ali Crumb and Jen Halberg helping her with paperwork, sub patterns and more. This team can get up and down the court but also has a half-court game. It's fun to listen to the bench players cheering and urging their mates on, and it gets quite noisy.
Coach Peter prowls the south end of the Pirate gym like a big, friendly bear, laughing, talking, cajoling, reminding and questioning each official as he goes by.
During the Skagit game, I stood behind the bench and got all the inside information. I do know he likes to shout out, "motion, motion" but he becomes quite disturbed when his squad doesn't execute the motion, and they didn't do it in a tough loss to Skagit, a game they really needed.
Former players Brandon Lord and Dan Guliford and Max Eding offer suggestions, help with substitutions, keep track of timeouts and generally are there to calm the head man.
Stewart put his charges though a tough December and the record wasn't very good, but all those games were designed to find out what kind of team he had and how tough they were.
The Pirates had their 21-game home win streak snapped by Olympic but they returned the favor and beat the Rangers on their home court last week.
The Pirate program is in good hands and a big crowd tonight in the Pirate gym would help, as will a huge crowd for the last home game against Edmonds on Feb. 28 and a trip to state for the men might be on the line in that one.
Be sure to come early, as seating will be at a premium. Let's go Pirates, let's go ....
Scooter Chapman can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.