PORT ANGELES — These Pirates age like fine wine.
Peninsula College’s older roster, led by 22-year-old guard Ryan Rutherford and forward Jason Gamblin, 24, continued its torrid start to division play with a 77-67 victory over Seattle in Tuesday night’s NWAACC men’s basketball game.
It was Peninsula’s fourth straight win to begin the North Division schedule, as the Pirates (4-0 in division, 7-6 overall) continued an impressive rebound from a 3-6 start to the season.
One might say a roster that includes a number of older players, many of whom were away from the game for two or more years, is nearing its vintage when it matters the most.
“If you would have called me and said I was going to be 4-0 [to begin division play], I would’ve thought you caught a wacky fish in the river,” Peninsula coach Peter Stewart said.
“We’re happy as heck.
“We thought we had a time-line to get better. We thought we would have had a little better preseason.
“To our kids credit, they exhaled and said ‘Everybody is 0-0, let’s go.’ And we’re 3-0 in conference at home and 1-0 on the road. I think that’s pretty good.”
Rutherford poured in a team-high 25 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists in the win.
It was the fifth straight game the Sequim High School graduate — the team’s leading scorer at 17.5 points per game — scored in double figures.
“I think we always kind of felt like we would turn it on when we needed to,” Rutherford said. “We just kind of got a sense of urgency coming out of that last [preseason] tournament when we went 0-2.
“Our practices started getting more intense and we started realizing it was coming down to the time we needed to get together.”
Gamblin added his third double-double of the season with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
His board work led a dominant effort on the glass that saw Peninsula out-rebound Seattle 54-27.
“We make a commitment [to rebounding],” Stewart said. “If we’re going to have any success this year our kids know we have to play defense and rebound.
“It’s not something we take lightly.”
That was evident on both ends of the court.
Not only did the Pirates limit Seattle (2-2, 7-6) to just four offensive boards, they also grabbed 22 on their own offensive end.
As a result, the Pirates had 17 more shots than the Storm, easily making up for a so-so shooting night from the floor (27-of-70).
“Coach always talks with us about rebounding being one of our strong points,” Gamblin said. “We work on that a lot every day. We want to make sure that is one of our key points in our defense and our offense.”
Peninsula has out-rebounded its opponent in each of its four division games, including in impressive wins against Bellevue and Skagit Valley (3-1, 9-4).
“I think a lot of the time we just want it more,” Rutherford said. “Jason just takes up a lot of space in there and Christian [Manzanza] can jump over anybody in the league.
“So with those two going hard to the glass, it’s really hard to stop us getting rebounds. Plus we have guards that go get rebounds as well.”
Peninsula jumped out to a 12-3 lead Wednesday night, capped by a putback from guard Russell Jackson six minutes into the game.
Seattle got as close as 23-22 with 5:25 to go before the break. Then Peninsula closed out the half with 13 unanswered points for a 35-22 edge.
Rutherford scored four points and dished out two assists during the run.
The Storm spent the entire second half trying to claw their way back. But despite a brief 9-0 run midway through that put the score at 60-54, they were unsuccessful.
Now the Pirates sit all alone atop the North, with a game at Whatcom (3-1, 8-5) lurking Saturday night.
“Everybody in the league has to look up at us,” Rutherford said. “We’re in a good spot right now.”
Trevant Musgrow and Jeremiah Johnson each added eight points and five rebounds for Peninsula, which once again played all 11 players in uniform and got points from all but three.
Eight players also had four or more boards.
That more than trumped a Seattle team which got points from just five players, led by Wil Bush’s game-high 26 points.
“We’re going to come at you,” Stewart said.
“We’ve been blessed with 11 kids that bought in, so we’re fortunate.”
Peninsula 77, Seattle 67
Seattle 22 45 — 67
Peninsula 35 42 — 77
Mulberg 5, Walker 12, Bush 26, Malysheff 13, Miller 11.
Manzanza 6, Jackson 2, Musgrow 8, Rutherford 25, Jacobson 2, Johnson 8, Gamblin 21, Collins 5.
Women’s Basketball Seattle 69, Peninsula 59
PORT ANGELES — The Pirates (0-4, 1-11) came as close to a win as they have in a month Wednesday.
Yet even with new addition Brianna DeSantis at forward, Peninsula could not end what is now a nine-game losing streak dating back to Dec. 11.
“I think we’re playing scared to lose instead of playing to win,” first-year Peninsula coach Alison Crumb said. “Unfortunately, when you play like that you usually end up losing.”
Peninsula rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit to take the lead twice in the late stages of Wednesday night’s NWAACC North Division game.
Yet as soon as they got the lead a second time, going up 59-58 on Jimesha Collins’ floater with 2:48 left in the game, it just as quickly went away.
The Pirates turned the ball over twice in three possessions after that, with a wayward 3-point attempt sandwiched in between.
By the time the sequence was over, the young Pirates squad was down 66-59.
Seattle (2-2, 3-9) ended up closing out the game on an 11-0 run.
“I don’t think we played very intelligent down the stretch,” Crumb said. “It’s tough to play as a freshman in a close situation like that when we haven’t been in very many.
“You just have to have the confidence in yourself that the game doesn’t change just because there’s only two minutes left. You still have to execute the same way that got you into that position.”
Collins scored a team-high 16 points and had five assists to lead the Pirates.
DeSantis added 13 points and eight rebounds in her first game in Gold and White, while Jasmine Jackson had 13 points.
Seattle’s DaVeonna Munson led all scorers with 20 points. Candace Grettenberger, a Bremerton alum, dropped in 18 points and grabbed six rebounds.
The Storm enjoyed a distinct advantage at the free-throw line, hitting 21-of-33 from the charity stripe to Peninsula’s 4-of-5. They also out-rebounded Peninsula 46-33.
“All in all I’m excited that they fought and came back,” Crumb said. “We just didn’t finish it down the stretch.”
Seattle 69, Peninsula 59
Seattle 37 32 — 69
Peninsula 27 32 — 59
Ford 3, Halingstad 7, Gonzalez 5, Grettenberger 18, Munson 20, Buhl 10, Mendoza 6.
Peninsula (59)Musgrove 2, Collins 16, Carter 2, Jackson 13, Garner 6, Houser 5, Wycoff 2, DeSantis 13.