After falling behind by 15 points the first time Peninsula played Bellevue, Pirate coach Peter Stewart wanted to see his crew start better.
On Saturday night, he got exactly that - but not much else.
After a 10-0 Peninsula run to open the game, Bellevue responded with a 29-5 tear over the first half's final 13 minutes as the Bulldogs ran away with a 63-41 conference victory on Feb. 7.
"We've just got to get better," Stewart said moments after the final buzzer. "Bellevue's a very good basketball team. Not to take anything away from them ... (but) we just didn't execute what we were supposed to do."
Jesse Bean led the Pirates (5-5 in conference play, 8-13 overall) with 14 points and Christian Manzanza had a team-high eight rebounds, but Bellevue outplayed Peninsula from the moment they snapped the Pirates' first-half run.
Bulldog Sam Cartmell led his visiting squad with 14 points and nine rebounds in just 24 minutes of play. Last time these teams met, Cartmell torched Peninsula for 23 points in a 15-point win.
This time around, he had plenty of help - some of it coming from the Pirates themselves. Peninsula gave up 21 points off turnovers and shot poorly from the field, connecting on just 15-of-57 (26 percent) of their shots and hit only three of 19 from three-point range.
Down 29-15 at half, the Pirates got a mini run thanks to a Bean three-pointer and Chidi Antoinne bucket. Bean seemed to single-handedly keep Peninsula close; his three-point play with 13:04 left closed the gap to nine points, but Cartmell and the Bulldogs would not allow Peninsula any closer. While Bellevue was hooking up for alley-oop dunks and long-range bombs on one end, Peninsula was busy turning the ball over or missing shots inside and outside.
The loss drops Peninsula a half-game behind Whatcom for the North Division's fourth and final playoff spot with six games remaining on the schedule.
The Pirates take on North Division co-leader Olympic (9-2 in conference, 17-3 overall) in Bremerton on Feb. 11 and host Skagit Valley Feb. 14.
Michael Dashiell can be reached at miked@sequim
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