Community Sports

Peninsula beats Gig Harbor to win girls basketball league title

Posted on February 6th, 2023 By:

The Peninsula Seahawks are the 2023 South Sound Conference girls basketball champions after an impressive 63-23 win over Gig Harbor on Friday, Feb. 3, in Purdy.

The Seahawks (17-3, 13-1 SSC) are No. 10 in the WIAA Class 3A RPI rankings. They won each of their last seven league games by 20 points or more.

The Peninsula Seahawks celebrate their South Sound Conference girls basketball championship. Bryce Carithers

Seahawks defense smothers Tides

On Friday, the Tides (12-8, 11-3) were overwhelmed early. Peninsula began the game with offensive rebounds, all-out effort and quick ball movement to stun the Tides. It was 19-7 at the end of the first quarter, and only that close because the Tides’ Alex Ferrier drained a wing three at the buzzer.

Seahawks Sophie Casello and Brooke Zimmerman each hit threes to stretch the lead to 25-9. Then Peninsula’s Grace Richardson stripped Gig Harbor’s Taylor Schwab and sprinted the other way for a bucket. Richardson used her quickness to limit the effectiveness of Schwab, who scored three points for the Tides.

“Grace is an amazing defensive player and has one of the most competitive spirits I’ve ever seen,” Peninsula coach Hannah Lekson said. “She has a natural ability to read players and anticipate their next move. Throughout the season she has always asked me if she can guard our opponents best player.”

Peninsula’s other guards, Kaylia Heidelberg and Daisy Peay, were effective as well. Peay finished 5 for 10 from the field for 13 points and the competitive Heidelberg drained four 3-pointers on her way to 14 points. Her second three demonstrated her footwork as she came off a screen and quickly fired. That three pushed the lead to 32-9 as the Peninsula student section yelled, “start the buses” before halftime.

Brooke Zimmerman scored a game-high 15 points in Peninsula’s win over Gig Harbor. Bryce Carithers

Zimmerman’s big game

Zimmerman finished with a game-high 15 points and yanked down 13 boards with two assists and four steals. But her most impressive contribution might have been her defense against all-SSC forward Riley Peschek.

Peschek has wrecked SSC opponents this season with four games of 20 rebounds or more and has some impressive power moves to score. But Zimmerman held her position while receiving back side help, limiting Peschek to only three shots for four points with seven rebounds. Peschek was continually doubled- and triple-teamed by the Seahawks, but made the right passes to perimeter players who misfired.

“Brooke loves a good challenge, she has an absolutely amazing work ethic and is extremely competitive,” Lekson said. “Riley is unbelievable with her rebounding and ability to score inside. Brooke saw Peschek’s stats as a challenge and played aggressive defense for four quarters and never let up.”

Richardson turned in the play of the night in the fourth quarter, when she intercepted a pass and then fired a bounce pass through a defenders’ legs to Samantha Karjala, who was fouled but drained both free throws.

The Magic Johnson-type pass was pure creativity, as was the reverse layin Richardson provided only moments later. She finished with 14 points on 7-11 shooting with 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals and a passionate defensive effort.

Peninsula’s Grace Richardson celebrates her team’s South Sound Conference championship. Bryce Carithers

Lekson wins title in 1st year as coach

The victory earned the Seahawks the outright SSC title.

Lekson, a Peninsula alum, was all smiles as she watched her team celebrate. She entered this year as a first time head coach and took over for previous coach Mike Schick, who built a solid foundation for success.

“She’s a great coach,” Richardson said. “She’s stepped up this year a lot, in more ways than one. We have definitely practiced on our defense, all she’s done is cheered us on and been a great mentor and coach, I couldn’t ask for anybody better. “

Gig Harbor finished third in the tough SSC.

The two teams meet again at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at Peninsula in the opening round of the Class 3A District 3/4 playoffs. The Tides received the eight seed at districts while the Seahawks received the districts number one seed to set up a rematch of cross town rivals.

Peninsula coach Hannah Lekson cuts down the nets after the Seahawks clinched a South Sound Conference championship with a win over Gig Harbor. Ronnie Glover