Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Peninsula’s Darrion Daniels, left, slips around Olympic’s JonRoss Juhas in first half play in Port Angeles on Wednesday night.

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Peninsula’s Darrion Daniels, left, slips around Olympic’s JonRoss Juhas in first half play in Port Angeles on Wednesday night.

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Team play keeps Peninsula win streak growing

PORT ANGELES — With players trying to get attention for a move to the next level of competition, community college basketball can sometimes slip into a me-first brand of play characterized by selfish play offensively and nonexistent defense.

The opposite has been true thus far this season for a youthful but rapidly maturing Peninsula College men’s basketball team.

Team basketball was on display in fine form Wednesday as the Pirates defeated rival Olympic 83-74 at home.

Peninsula’s sixth-straight win and 10th triumph in its last 11 games kept the Pirates (3-0, 12-3) unbeaten in league play and atop the NWAC North Division.

The Rangers rolled out to a 7-0 lead on Peninsula to open the game.

“We weren’t getting as many rhythm shots, but I credit Olympic for their preparation for the game and for some of our actions,” Pirates coach Mitch Freeman said of the early going.

Peninsula climbed back into the contest and tied the game at 17-all thanks to eight points on inside-and-outside scoring by sophomore Darrion Daniels.

Daniels, named the NWAC Men’s Player of the Week on Tuesday after averaging 25 points in road wins over Shoreline and Everett last week, hit for a game-high 29 points in Wednesday’s game on 11 of 21 shooting, including hitting 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

“The coaching staff and my teammates are believing in me and in my going out and being aggressive and looking to score,” Daniels said.

“It’s been working well.”

Peninsula’s lead grew to as much as 10 points, 37-27, when Daniels, with his back to the basket at the elbow, tucked a no-look pass behind his head into the waiting arms of post Kevin Baker for an easy layup.

The Rangers, however, fought back and cut the Pirates’ lead to 41-39 at halftime.

Peninsula opened the second half on a 16-6 run to lead 57-45, keyed by seven points by Daniels and two 3-point baskets by point guard Jalon McCullough.

McCullough scored 19 points, connecting on 3 of 4 3-point shots and hitting all 10 of his free throw attempts.

Olympic again fought back, pulling within three at 59-56, but the Pirates’ Alex Baham stepped up and hit an NBA-range 3-point basket as the shot clock buzzer sounded with 8:03 remaining to give Peninsula some cushion.

Baham knocked down 3 of 4 3-point shots and scored 11 points coming off the bench.

The Rangers never truly threatened down the stretch as the Pirates’ lead bounced between eight and 11 points.

McCullough was a big part of that steady finish as the Alaskan product hit all eight free throws he attempted in the final 2:50 of play.

Cole Rabedeaux had 10 points in a reserve role and Omar Lo was an active presence on the offensive and defensive glass, hauling down 16 rebounds.

“Omar had 16 rebounds. He’s a guy, the shots didn’t fall but he continues to work at it,” Freeman said.

“I thought he was a key component in tonight’s game. He got a lot of rebounds and kept a lot of balls alive for us.”

Freeman has been pleased with his team’s character during this strong stretch of play.

“Overall, I am very encouraged with our continued success in terms of guys trusting each other and lifting each other up,” Freeman said.

“We are having multiple guys in double-figure points every night and we have to be able to go to the bench and get that type of production. It’s something we haven’t always been able to count on in the past.”

Former Peninsula player Juwan Flowers led Olympic with 23 points. Flowers played for the Pirates as a freshman in 2013.

Daniels said the Pirates’ recent successes boil down to an improving sense of trust.

“Honestly, just everybody buying into the program and everybody believing in each other and going out and playing hard for each other every game,” Daniels said.

“That comes from practice. Every day coach Freeman is pushing us and telling us that if we believe in each other we can go a long way.”

Peninsula’s Pirate Pete spirit week concludes with Peninsula hosting Bellevue (1-2, 11-7) in a 6 p.m. contest Saturday.

Peninsula 83, Olympic 74

Olympic 39 35— 74

Peninsula 41 42— 83

Olympic (74) — Flowers 23, Lewis 15, Juhas 14, Spearman 11, Simmons 7, Johnson 2, Davis 2.

Peninsula (83) — Daniels 29, McCullough 19, Baham 11, Rabedeaux 10, Warren 5, Baker 4, Lo 3, Day 2, Velez.

________

Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]

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