By Doug Flanagan
KENNEWICK — When Peter Stewart took over as the head coach of the Peninsula College men’s basketball team two years ago, he asked his players to do just one simple thing: Believe in him.
Belief in Stewart’s system has propelled the Pirates from last place (3-12) a year ago to third place in the 2004 Northwest Athletics Association of Community Colleges Tournament on Monday.
Peninsula destroyed Tacoma 99-60 in the third-place game at Tri-Cities Coliseum, vindicating not only Stewart’s faith in his system but his players’ renewed commitment. Tacoma ended up in sixth place.
“This means a lot,” said sophomore guard Luke Oleson. “We’ve been through a lot together over the past two years. We’ve seen the worst, and now we’ve seen the best. The loss (to Lower Columbia, 101-78 in the Sunday semifinals) was tough, but we wanted to come out today and prove that we’re not a fluke.”The Pirates did just that, dismantling the clearly emotionally hungover Titans — who lost a semifinal contest to Mount Hood on Sunday on a buzzer-beating putback — in every phase of the game.