Peninsula’s Lellani Padilla, left, pushes past Whatcom’s Carmelita Rodriguez during Wednesday’s game in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula’s Lellani Padilla, left, pushes past Whatcom’s Carmelita Rodriguez during Wednesday’s game in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Peninsula takes down league-leading Whatcom

PORT ANGELES — The Peninsula women showed they can play with the best the North has to offer.

Their next goal: showing they can play with the best in the Northwest Athletic Conference.

The Pirates overcame an 11-0 second-half Whatcom run, followed by another 10-0 Whatcom run to outlast the first-place Orcas 74-64 at Peninsula College on Wednesday night.

Peninsula’s Kayla Johnson, center, is congratulated by her teammates after coming off the floor in the final seconds of the Pirate’s win over the Whatcom Orca’s on Wednesday night in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula’s Kayla Johnson, center, is congratulated by her teammates after coming off the floor in the final seconds of the Pirate’s win over the Whatcom Orca’s on Wednesday night in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The win keeps the Pirates (9-3, 16-7) in second place in the North, now just one game behind Whatcom (10-2, 19-8), which came in to the game with just one loss in North Division play.

And they did thanks largely to a Bill Russell-esque game from Logan Luke, who scored 23 points and pulled down 22 rebounds in thoroughly dominating the game. Every time the Pirates needed a big play, it seemed like it was Luke who came through.

“She literally battled so hard. She was first to every ball. She works as hard as possible. It shows that when you work hard, good things happen,” said coach Alison Crumb.

Luke is listed at only 5-foot-9, but she fought all game in the paint battling Whatcom’s bigger players for those 22 rebounds.

“She’s very athletic. She out-athleticisms a lot of people,” Crumb said.

“She definitely did her job tonight,” said the Pirates’ Leilani Padilla, who hit a huge 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to give the Pirates a lift.

Crumb said the players knew it was a tough game, with Whatcom at 10-1 in the North Division and having won nine games in a row.

“Knowing that we can get a team like that,” Crumb said. “It puts us in a great position with two games to go.”

“It means a lot. It shows how much we’ve grown in the last month. All of our work is paying off,” Padilla said.

Peninsula’s Casandra White, right heads for the lane as Whatcom’s Emylee Kiser defends on Wednesday on the Pirate home court in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula’s Casandra White, right heads for the lane as Whatcom’s Emylee Kiser defends on Wednesday on the Pirate home court in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The game was close in the first half with neither team able to pull away. The Pirates took a 37-31 lead into the halftime break. Luke already had 15 points and 12 rebounds at halftime.

After a Kayla Johnson basket, the Pirates built up a lead of 43-33, seeming to take control, but then came the first of Whatcom’s huge runs. The Orcas went on an 11-0 run over 4 minutes to take a 44-43 lead over the Pirates.

Luke was a huge part of the Pirates’ response as she grabbed a pair of rebounds that led to a Casandra White basket.

Kameron Bowen had a couple of offensive rebounds that led to her own putback and Luke added a basket of her own as the Pirates opened up the lead back to 54-45 in the waning seconds of the third quarter.

The Orcas made a 3-pointer just before the end of the third quarter, then started the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to retake the lead at 55-54.

After the two big runs, the Pirates held fast and didn’t crumble, fighting back both times.

“It’s so hard to not be human and get down on yourself,” after a team makes a big run, Crumb said. “They played a little inhuman tonight.”

Peninsula’s Casandra White, left, sweeps past Whatcom’s Gabrielle Edison on Wednesday night in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula’s Casandra White, left, sweeps past Whatcom’s Gabrielle Edison on Wednesday night in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

the game see-sawed back and forth until the last couple of minutes. Pirates’ sharpshooter Leilani Padilla, who didn’t have the best shooting night but still scored 19, hit a huge 3-pointer with 3:30 left in the game to give the Pirates a 68-61 lead.

“I just trust in the process,” Padilla said, not getting down after missing some shots earlier in the game. “It helps when your teammates pick you up.”

And then Luke simply dominated down the stretch. She had a rebound and drew a foul with 2:53 left, making a free throw. She had a steal with two minutes left, her fourth steal of the game, then hit a 3-pointer with less than a minute left to open up a 72-64 lead.

Fittingly, Luke finished the game by grabbing a rebound on the Orcas’ final shot of the game.

Johnson finished the game with 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. Padilla hit three 3-pointers and shot 6 for 6 from the free-throw line. Kameron Bowen had six steals.

Peninsula could finish first, second or third in the North. The Pirates are tied for second place with Bellevue, which beat Edmonds 80-79 Wednesday to remain locked up with the Pirates at 9-3 in the North.

The Pirates have two games left against middle-of-the-pack teams — Everett (6-6, 14-13) on Sunday and Shoreline (5-7, 12-13) at home next Wednesday.

Peninsula 74, Whatcom 64

Whatcom 19 12 17 16— 64

Peninsula 22 15 17 20— 74

Whatcom (64) — Edison 20, Tyler 15, Chisman 13, Graham 5, Rodriguez 5, Smith 4, Holz 2.

Peninsula (74) — Luke 23, Padilla 19, Johnson 18, White 8, Bowen 2, Fitzgerald 2, Vicente 2.

________

Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or plabossiere@peninsuladailynews.com.

Peninsula’s Sunshine Vicente, center, runs headlong into the defence of Whatcom’s Jayden Hawkinson, left, and Carmelita Rodriguez as Vicente’s teammate, Logan Luke, looks on during Wednesday’s NWAC North Region game in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Peninsula’s Sunshine Vicente, center, runs headlong into the defence of Whatcom’s Jayden Hawkinson, left, and Carmelita Rodriguez as Vicente’s teammate, Logan Luke, looks on during Wednesday’s NWAC North Region game in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

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