PORT ANGELES — The ball kept going to Taylor Larson, and only the Peninsula College women’s basketball team knew why.
The freshman post from Juneau, Alaska, was on the verge of breaking a Pirate women’s scoring record, and the team was determined to see it happen.
“I missed a few layups and I was like, ‘Guys, stop passing me the ball,’” Larson said.
“They kept passing it to me and I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ Finally from the bench they said, ‘Five more points,’ [to break the single-game scoring record], and I was like, ‘Oh, I get it now.”
Such is the state of the Pirate women’s basketball program, where in the past few weeks games have been over early enough that the thought of going for records can be entertained.
That was certainly the case Wednesday night when the Pirates cruised to their fourth straight double-digit win in NWAACC North Division play, this time bulldozing the Olympic Rangers 77-55.
The only thing in doubt in the last five minutes was whether Larson would eclipse the 32-point single-game scoring mark shared by former Pirates Sierra Tornga (2002) and Francis Farani (2004).
The 5-foot-11 left-hander delivered with four minutes to spare, finishing with 35 points on 17-of-29 shooting from the field and 1-of-4 from the free-throw line.
“She’s had the opportunity to have games like that all year, but we like to rest her,” Pirates coach Alison Crumb said.
“It was just kind of like, ‘Well you’re feeling it, and if the team is ready to just kind of sacrifice themselves and play offense around you . . . then let’s go for it.’
“Everybody wanted to give her the ball. It didn’t make for the best team basketball, but when an individual gets that kind of opportunity and the team is willing to support her in that, I think it’s great.”
The 35-point night was not only a new Pirate record, but also a personal best for Larson, the team’s leading scorer at 16.9 points per game.
She pulled it off like she normally does, using her powerful frame to gain position on the left block, then going to work again and again.
She scored on baby hooks, short jumpers and leak-outs, with several of her baskets set up by point guard Karli Brakes.
Brakes finished with 10 assists, falling one shy of tying a Pirate single-game record herself.
“Karli finds her very well,” said Crumb, who actually shares the assists record with ex-Pirate teammate Trista White.
“They’ve been playing together since high school. Karli had 10 assists tonight and I’m sure all of them were to Taylor.”
Larson scored 18 points in the first half as the Pirates took a 35-17 advantage into the break.
The lead would only grow from there, with the Pirates going ahead by as many as 28 points in the second half thanks to Larson’s scoring and the team’s stifling full-court press.
Olympic turned the ball over 33 times under heavy pressure from Peninsula, with many directly leading to points on the other end.
“I think the girls really wanted to come out and just play tonight,” Crumb said.
“I’ve kind of had them trying to focus and do things and really structure things out, and I just got this feeling that they just wanted to run up and down the floor.
“So we just kind of broke the chains off a little bit and said ‘Let’s go full court the whole time and see what happens.’”
A total of nine Pirates scored in the game, with Abigail Jones adding 15 points, eight rebounds and five steals and Jasmine Yarde eight points and seven rebounds.
Still, it was clear that the evening belonged to Larson, who also had 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
“She’s legit,” Olympic coach Tammy Helwig said. “She’s strong and her moves are to the basket.
“If anybody is lighter than her, she’s going to move them. They were bouncing off her [tonight], so she’s just solid, strong and she goes up hard.”
Added Crumb, “The best part about Taylor is she gets hammered all game long consistently but because she’s so strong, she doesn’t get the calls that we like and she just stays after it, she doesn’t complain.
“She can get a little frustrated here and there, but for the most part she just stays after it.
“That type of toughness — not just strength, but toughness — really defines her as a player.”
Peninsula 77, Olympic 55
Olympic 17 38 — 55
Peninsula 35 42 — 77
M. Kozloff 3, Stewart 9, Chandler 24, Jackson 4, S. Kozloff 4, Klump 2, Lamar 9.
Peninsula (77)Durbin 2, Mason 5, Jones 15, Monfrey 4, Brakes 3, Yarde 8, Smith 4, Larson 35, Manker 1.