Peninsula’s Ciera Agasiva, left, slips around the defense of Skagit Valley’s Jenae Rhoads on Wednesday at Peninsula College. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Peninsula’s Ciera Agasiva, left, slips around the defense of Skagit Valley’s Jenae Rhoads on Wednesday at Peninsula College. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Peninsula College seals third straight North Region crown

Sixth division title for head coach Alison Crumb

PORT ANGELES — A scrappy Skagit Valley squad did its best to prolong the outcome, but in the end, the Peninsula College women’s basketball team earned a 60-57 victory over the Cardinals to clinch the Pirates’ third consecutive Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) North Region crown on Wednesday night.

It was the sixth overall North title under Peninsula head coach Alison Crumb and a particularly rewarding accomplishment for the long-tenured Crumb.

“We have had quite a bit of success in recent seasons, but with a junior college, it’s always a new group of players coming in,” Crumb said.

“And we had 12 freshmen, a whole new dynamic, a whole new story, so it definitely means a lot. So I am surprised. I would have been much more surprised to know this was possible in October [when practices started], but by January, I felt we could win the league. I knew we would have the talent but maybe not the chemistry or the maturity. There’s a lot that goes into building trust and relationships, much more than you see on the court, and especially with the interconnected way we play.

“We knew we had the talent that could sustain us, but I didn’t think we would be 12-0 going into our final two games.”

With the win, the Pirates (12-0) secured a No. 1 seed into the 2024 NWAC basketball championship tournament and will take on the No. 4 finisher from the West Region at noon March 8 at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.

Peninsula put off the traditional net-cutting celebration until Saturday’s Sophomore Day doubleheader against Everett. The women will play at 2 p.m. and the net-cutting ceremony will follow after the men’s game, which tips at 4 p.m.

Wednesday’s contest with Skagit Valley was a tight contest from the opening tip.

Peninsula led 35-34 at halftime and went up by as much as 13 late in the third quarter at 53-40. But the Cardinals battled back via a 15-3 run and the Pirates went cold from the floor, going nearly four minutes without scoring.

Ciera Tugade Agasiva had two important baskets for Peninsula in the final minutes, scoring on a layup after a Jennilee Donovan steal and later making an impressive ball fake and drive for a left-handed layup with a minute to go to put the Pirates up 60-57.

Peninsula’s defense stiffened down the stretch, shutting down Skagit offensively for the final 1:40, including Grace Nelson’s look at a potentially game-tying 3-pointer with 12 seconds left which hit the front iron.

“I think there was some weird funky calls between both teams, there was some offensive fouls and the game got a little choppy,” Crumb said. “There wasn’t much rhythm generated in that quarter on either side, we just had to be the better defensive team to get the win.”

Agasiva led the Pirates with 13 points and also had two steals and four rebounds.

Lainey Suaava added 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench for Peninsula. Neah Bay’s Allie Greene scored eight and Sequim’s Jelissa Julmist added eight points, seven rebounds and three steals.

Crumb said the team isn’t worrying about finishing out the season 14-0 in league, just on the next game with Everett.

“We don’t want to put anything else in their heads. They already have enough stuff to process,” Crumb said. “We will just worry about Everett, this game and what we can do to win. But we want to enjoy this North title and make sure we put enough value on that since we spend so much more of our emotional energy on the last part of our season. But it takes a lot to win a division title, it’s a grind week in and week out with 14 games, injuries, all that can happen.”

Peninsula 60, Skagit Valley 57

Skagit Valley 13 21 9 14 — 57

Peninsula 17 18 18 7 — 60

Skagit Valley (57) — Wichers 17, Nelson 9, Smith 8, Fischer 8, Butenschoen 6 Jackson 3, Kerr 2, Rhoads 2, Michel 2.

Peninsula (60) — Tugade Agasiva 13, Suaava 11, Julmist 8, Greene 8, Donovan 5, Mackey 5, Moananu 5, Marini 5, Pedebone, Bates.

________

Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at sports@peninsulanews.us.

Peninsula’s Allie Greene, left, puts the ball up over Skagit Valley’s Madisyn Butenschoen on Wednesday on the Pirates’ home court in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Peninsula’s Allie Greene, left, puts the ball up over Skagit Valley’s Madisyn Butenschoen on Wednesday on the Pirates’ home court in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Peninsula’s Jelissa Julmist, front, pushes her way to the lane past Skagit Valley’s Jenae Rhoads on Wednesday evening at Peninsula College. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Peninsula’s Jelissa Julmist, front, pushes her way to the lane past Skagit Valley’s Jenae Rhoads on Wednesday evening at Peninsula College. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Peninsula’s Alexa Mackey, left, competes for a rebound with Skagit Valley’s McKenna Wichers, right, and Jenae Rhoads on Wednesday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Peninsula’s Alexa Mackey, left, competes for a rebound with Skagit Valley’s McKenna Wichers, right, and Jenae Rhoads on Wednesday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Peninsula’s Talia Marini, left, works in from the corner around Skagit Valley’s Jenae Rhoads on Wednesday evening in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

Peninsula’s Talia Marini, left, works in from the corner around Skagit Valley’s Jenae Rhoads on Wednesday evening in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula News)

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