By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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Erwin added a free throw less than two minutes later, but Peninsula didn't make another field goal until point guard Erron Shamlin's drive through traffic for a layup with 2:48 left in the half.
By then, Bellevue had a 25-20 lead and went on to a 76-66 victory in NWAACC North Division men's basketball play.
“We were stuck on 18 and couldn't score,” Pirates coach Mitch Freeman said following Saturday's game.
“Anytime we have a hard time producing baskets, we tend to let up on the defensive end. And that's just a sign of a team that's coming together. We're just not there yet.”
During Bellevue's 23-3 run to end the first half and take a 31-20 lead at intermission, Peninsula struggled with ball security.
“Anytime you're turning the basketball over, you're going to have a hard time getting baskets,” Freeman said.
“We had one assist and eight turnovers [in the first half], so we had a hard time creating shots for each other.
“But, give credit to Bellevue. They're a pretty good basketball team, and Coach [Jeremy] Eggers does a good job; and they're very physical, they don't beat themselves.
“We knew that was coming, but we started off the game as well as I would like against a team like that.”
The Pirates only turned the ball over twice in the second half, but managed only two more assists.
Bellevue's lead ballooned to as many as 18 points in the second half, 70-52 with 3:50 to play, before Peninsula ended the game on a 14-6 run.
“We made some adjustments in the second half; I thought we were better, a little bit. But again, give credit to Bellevue, because they came out with the same understanding and they played a lot better in the second half,” Freeman said.
“We just got down too much [in the first half]. And then we obviously had to pick up a lot of pressure and try to distort things and create some turnovers.
“We made it a little sloppy, too, with what we tried to do defensively, because we had to.”
Xavier Bazile led the Pirates with a season-high 30 points, with 16 of those points coming in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Tyler McKinney finished with 11 points and Geno Horsley had eight.
Markus Rawls led Peninsula with six rebounds.
Jalen Ward led the Bulldogs with 19 points in 20 minutes. Anthony McLaughlin and Austin O'Keefe added 16 points apiece.
Halfway through the North Division schedule, Bellevue (5-2 in division, 11-9 overall) sits in third place, while Peninsula (3-4, 9-7) falls to fifth place, one game behind Edmonds (4-3, 12-8) for the division's fourth and final playoff spot.
The Pirates are off until Saturday when they host second-place Whatcom (6-1, 13-4).
“They've got one really, really good player in Kyle Impero,” Freeman said of Whatcom.
“He's fantastic. He's one of the better scorers in the NWAACC. A really great jump-shooter.”
Impero leads the conference with an average of 30.3 points per game. In the Orcas' 99-76 win over Peninsula earlier this month, Impero racked up 40 points on 14 of 19 shooting from the field.
Bellevue 76, Peninsula 66
Bellevue 31 45— 76
Peninsula 20 46— 66
Bellevue (5-2, 11-9)
Ward 19, Muongvang 2, Greer 6, Clinton 5, Jordan 4, Jones 2, Smith 10, McLaughlin 16, O'Keefe 16.
Peninsula (3-4, 9-7)
Bazile 30, Shamlin 4, Horsley 8, McKinney 11, Flowers 4, Rawls 2, Hachanova 2, Erwin 5.