Peninsula boys basketball coach Ryan Quinlan looked at Thursday night’s Bay League regular season finale against Palos Verdes as the perfect opportunity.
“I told the boys in pregame you couldn’t have painted a better picture. You have the ability to sweep our rival and clinch a playoff spot with a win,” Quinlan said. “These guys brought it these last two weeks.”
Luke Frasso finished with 21 points, and Peninsula made its shots down the stretch to defeat PV 66-60.
Quinlan saw Frasso continue his strong play, especially after his 23-point night was critical in Peninsula defeating Redondo Tuesday night.
PV (16-9, 5-5) opened the fourth quarter outscoring Peninsula 7-3 to make it a 54-45 game before Frasso’s hook shot gave Peninsula a 13-point lead midway through the fourth.
Down double digits, PV refused to let its CIF Southern Section Division 2-A playoff hopes slip away.
PV utilized a 7-0 run, including five straight from Lucas Hong, over a two-minute span to make it a 61-55 game with 1:27 to play. Hong finished with eight points.
But what stung PV was its free throw shooting down the stretch. The Sea Kings shot 7 for 13 in the fourth after a third quarter where PV hit 9 of 10 free throws. PV went 20 for 31 from the free throw line Thursday night.
Still, PV coach Brian Edelman knew the game was more about Peninsula hitting its shots in crunch time than PV missing its free throws.
“(Peninsula) made the big buckets every time we got close enough,” Edelman said. “Whenever they had to hit a big shot, they hit it.”
Peninsula (18-10, 6-4) began the game on a tear. The Panthers outscored PV 16-5 over the final 6:44 of the first quarter before taking an 18-8 lead after the first. JD Plough scored eight of his 14 points in the first quarter, with Frasso chipping in five.
“We wanted to come our fired up,” Frasso said. “Our transition offense has been working well, and we’ve been posting the ball up. We were able to do that pretty well in the first half.”
While Frasso and Plough got the Panthers started offensively, it was the steady play of Troy Simpkins that put Peninsula over the top. Simpkins scored 13 points, including 10 in the third quarter, and added 10 rebounds.
“(Simpkins) is our leader, and he’s been playing like this all year,” Quinlan said. “He’s not about stats, he just wants to win. We expect him to play like this every game.”
Elijah Simpson led PV with 15 points, while Bradley Knoblauch had nine.
What Edelman saw Thursday night was the same thing he saw last week during PV’s 72-65 loss to Redondo.
“We (got down big) against Redondo, and fought back. I wish we didn’t get down that much,” Edelman said. “But I know this team is going to compete and play hard.”
Frasso called Thursday night's game a big one for multiple reasons. The youngest of three to attend Peninsula, Frasso said his oldest brother, Jake, made the trek from Santa Barbara to catch his last regular season home game.
“This game meant a lot for my whole family,” Frasso said. “If this was our last home game, I think it was a pretty good way to end it here at Peninsula.”