SILVERDALE — Central Kitsap looked like it was about to overcome a slow start against Peninsula in its first round district tournament game, but the Cougars were sunk by a last-second buzzer-beater.
Seahawks senior Cole McVay knocked down a 3-pointer as time expired to lift his team to a 54-52 victory in the first-ever home playoff basketball game in the Central Kitsap gym.
The loss moves them to the left side of the bracket in the 3A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament and they will face the loser of the Lincoln-Prairie game at 6 p.m. at Foss High School next Wednesday.
“That’s basketball,” said head coach Scott McMinds. “[McVay] hit a shot every kid grows up dreaming about.”
But the Cougars put forth quite an effort to even get to that point. They trailed Peninsula 30-23 at halftime and were struggling to create both quality and quantity in the offensive half of the court.
“We definitely had some heavy legs at the beginning,” McMinds said. “We didn’t move, we didn’t get shots. I’m definitely proud of their effort coming out in the second half.”
Jo Jo Johnson got the run started with a layup and a conversion on the subsequent foul shot to pull Central Kitsap within two. Then senior guard Colby White got hot and hit four consecutive jumpers. His last came with 48 seconds left in the third quarter and put the Cougars ahead 39-38.
The Seahawks were cold to start the fourth, missing their first seven field goals attempts, but the Cougars weren’t able to take advantage. They led Peninsula by five midway through the final quarter after White hit a pair of free throws to increase the lead to 48-43. Luke Browne answered right back to cut the lead to three.
Browne, who had a game-high 19 points, sank a late jumper gave Peninsula a 51-49 lead. On the next possession, White was sent to the line after being fouled. He hit only one of two free throws and it looked like Central Kitsap might have to start fouling to regain possession. But on the subsequent inbound, Maurice Green came up with a steal and White was again fouled as he went to the basket.
White hit both of his free throws this time and Central Kitsap was ahead 52-51 with eight seconds left.
Peninsula went down the court and quickly set up their last shot. McVay rolled away from a screen and hit the 3-pointer from the right baseline as the buzzer sounded. It was the Seahawks’ eighth and final 3-pointer of the game.
“They shot the ball really well,” White said, who finished the night with 18 points. “They came out better than us earlier in the game.”
Central Kitsap can still qualify for regionals, but now have to win two in a row and will likely face a tougher road on the top left side of the bracket. Both of those games will take place at Foss on Wednesday and Friday next week. The fifth-sixth place game is set for noon on Feb. 22 at Rogers High School.
Peninsula 54, Central Kitsap 52
PN 13 17 8 16 — 54
CK 12 11 16 13 — 52
Peninsula (54) — Browne 19, Lichau 13, McVay 8, Bockhorn 6, Buchanan 4, Uffens 2, Wittmers 2.