By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
But the Pirates couldn't maintain that hard-earned advantage, allowing an Alexis Berrysmith putback with 1:10 to play and falling 56-54 at home on Saturday night.
“I'm so proud of how they fought back,” Pirates coach Alison Crumb said of her players.
“We saw much of the off-the-court nature of this team [during the second-half comeback]: they supported each other, they were unselfish and did all the little things to be successful.”
Down two with 20 seconds to play, Peninsula(4-3, 7-10) inbounded the basketball to sophomore Alison Knowles.
Knowles had trouble collecting the pass and a rugby-like scrum formed near halfcourt, with both teams desperate for the basketball.
Peninsula's Madison Pilster grabbed the ball and had the presence of mind to realize there was time left on the clock and most of the Bellevue team was still looking for the ball.
She raced toward the rim but was stripped on her layup attempt.
With 6.1 seconds left, Peninsula inbounded the ball on the right baseline to Knowles, but her entry pass to post Gabi Fenumiai was stolen just before the buzzer sounded.
“They [Bellevue] just made plays at the end to get those stops and we didn't have the answer,” Crumb said.
Peninsula had already managed one rally, paring a 15-6 Bellevue lead with 13:19 left in the first half, down to a 3-point margin 27-24 with 3:19 before halftime.
Bellevue regrouped, ending the half on a 9-0 run to lead 36-24 at the break.
Five more Bellevue points coming out of the locker room extended the Bulldogs' run to 14-0 and the lead to 41-24 with 18:53 left to play.
In the second half, the Pirates played strong help defense with their 2-3 zone, ball-hawking Bellevue's passing lanes to create turnovers and putting an emphasis on working the ball down in the low post to Fenumiai.
Fenumiai scored 15 of her game-high 19 points and grabbed eight of her 13 rebounds in the second half
Peninsula also received some help from an ice-cold Bulldog team — Bellevue shot just 27 percent — 10 of 37 from the floor, 1 of 18 from beyond the 3-point arc in the second half.
The Pirates held Bellevue scoreless from 15:06 to 6:14 of the second half.
During that 8:52 stretch, Peninsula outscored the Bulldogs 12-0.
“We could tell that they weren't shooting well from the outside so we moved back to the 2-3, tried to pack it in, and the girls were communicating well and working hard on their rotations,” Crumb said.
“And anytime you can get consecutive stops like that it helps your offense.”
Pilster had 11 points and Knowles knocked in 10 for the Pirates.
Peninsula took the lead 53-51 with 2:49 to play but Berrysmith was fouled while scoring a basket and hit her foul shot to retake the lead and followed that up with the game-winning putback a little more than a minute later.
The Pirates host Whatcom (6-1, 10-7), who is tied for the North Division-lead with Bellevue, on Saturday.
Bellevue 56, Peninsula 54
Bellevue 36 20— 56
Peninsula 24 30— 54
Hopkins 14, Jackson 9, Berrysmith 8, Hall 8, Fleming 7, Bunger 5, Rankin 3, Rogers 2.
Fenumiai 19, Pilster 11, Knowles 10, Brumbaugh 7, Schmillen 5, Henderson 2.