KENT — White River and Peninsula muddled through a game on Saturday morning in a contest that looked like it was played, well, in the morning.
It was Peninsula that found its legs late and pulled away for a 55-48 win in the ShoWare Shootout at the ShoWare Center.
The problems of a 10:30 a.m. tip were compounded for White River (4-2) by an intense rivalry game Friday night, a 60-53 win over Clover Park. The result was more than a few air balls and the majority of misses hitting front iron.
“We had a war last night and we kind of knew that, but we scheduled these games because down the road — state tournament, districts — you’re going play back-to-backs, have tough games,” White River coach Rick Tripp said.
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The Seahawks (5-1) tried to combat the lethargy that usually comes with early-morning games with a shootaround at Peninsula before bussing to Kent for the game. The strategy appeared to pay off for the Seahawks, which never trailed by more than four points.
Taking a one-point lead into the fourth, Peninsula started the quarter on an 8-2 run to build a 46-39 advantage. The Hornets were able to cut the deficit to two, but sophomore JaQuori McLaughlin hit all four of his free-throw attempts in the final couple minutes to help seal the win.
“He’s a quatro threat — he can shoot the three, he can attack the rim, he can shoot free throws and have that midrange game,” Peninsula coach Jake Jackson said.
McLaughlin showed his versatility by going perfect from the free-throw line in eight attempts, hitting a three-pointer and executing a variety of pull-up jumpers. The sophomore scored 18 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, adding five assists, four rebounds and just one turnover.
McLaughlin, an Oregon State commit, scored six of the Seahawks’ final eight points and gave Peninsula enough energy down the home stretch to give the team momentum heading into winter break.
“I think the momentum’s huge because it gives us confidence,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of young guys. They’re learning how to win. They’re competing, but they don’t know how to win just yet, but they’re starting to.”
Spencer Swigart led White River with 10 points, while Brandon Dove and Clayton Holm each added nine.