One hallmark of a good team is having a number of players step up to lead.
That’s what Peninsula’s Pirates got after going 2-1 and taking third place at the Pierce Holiday Invitational in Tacoma last weekend.
“We want people to know it’s a different team, a different year,” said Peninsula head coach Alison Crumb, as the Pirates have as many wins this season at 5-2 as last year.
“They are demanding respect at this point. It’s been a positive energy so far.”
The Pirates were just four points shy of a win against Lane and a berth in the tourney finals, but the Lane’s Titans forced 32 turnovers in a 50-47 defensive struggle on Dec. 10.
Peninsula opened the tourney with a 67-56 win Dec. 9 against the host Pierce Raiders. Taking advantage of Pierce’s limited lineup — the Raiders suited just six for the contest — Pirate Taylor Larson dominated inside for 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Jesse Ellis added 15 points and 10 rebounds while Karli Brakes added five steals and a game-high seven assists. Jasmine Yarde chipped in with 16 points.
“They (Pierce) have five people who can go for 40 minutes,” Crumb said. “It definitely helped us to give them different looks.”
In the semis, Peninsula held a slim advantage at half (27-25) but couldn’t close it out against Lane’s Titans.
P.C. held Lane to just 14-of-63 shooting (22 percent) but committed 32 turnovers that the Titans converted to 21 points, proving to be the difference.
Peninsula held a lead late but couldn’t come up with the shots in the end, Crumb said.
Yarde hit three 3-point shots and led P.C. with 13 points and Larson chipped in with 10. Brakes had another solid all-around game with five assists, five steals and six rebounds.
“She’s small, quick and she’s feisty,” Crumb said of the 5 foot 3 inch Brakes. “She’s a point guard who can break the press by herself. We don’t want to have her do that all game (but) she feeds off that energy.”
The Pirates didn’t help themselves at the free throw line, sinking just four of 14 free throws. Lane, by contrast, hit 19 of 30 free throws.
“We wanted to compete with them and we did,” Crumb said. “It was a battle.”
Crumb noted that Lane is the highest-scoring team in the NWACCC heading into the contest.
Peninsula responded with a strong performance Dec. 11 against Skagit Valley, building a 17-5 lead early and a 12-point lead by halftime before holding on for a 65-57 victory.
Raquel Young led the Pirate offense with 18 points, missing just three of her 12 shots form the field.
Abigail Jones added 12 points and Ellis contributed 11 points and seven rebounds. Brakes paced the offense with eight assists.
Peninsula held the Cardinals to just 21-of-73 shooting (29 percent). Bainbridge High alum Brittany Gray led Skagit with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Sophia Baetz, a Kingston High grad, had 12.
“Skagit has a couple of people who weren’t in this game,” Crumb said. “This was a pretty important game for us, against a team in our league.”
Brakes is dishing out 6.1 assists per game, second in the NWAACC.
The Pirates are back in action Dec. 16 at the Clackamas Crossover Tournament in Oregon City, Ore.
“We want to find our identity in this next tournament,” Crumb said.
Peninsula opens against winless Treasure Valley. Looming in the second round is a possible match-up with host No. 2-ranked Clackamas.
“We’re fine with that; we want to play good teams, see where we stand,” Crumb said. “We’re not afraid to play better teams. We embrace it.”
The Pirates are back home Jan. 7 when they face Skagit Valley once again and likely with the Cardinals’ full lineup.
“I knew that we’ll be definitely be excited for them,” Crumb said.
Reach Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.