Trailing by two with less than twenty seconds to play Tuesday night, the Peninsula boys basketball team had its chance to continue its run through the CIF Southern Section Division 2A playoffs.

But the Panthers turned the ball over and watched as top-seeded Ribet Academy hit one of two free throws down the stretch before handing Peninsula a 49-46 loss.

"The boys played their tails off from start to finish," Peninsula coach Ryan Quinlan said. "We defended well and played tough. We didn't give them too many second chance opportunities, and we controlled the pace on offense."

Peninsula (20-11) led 26-24 at halftime, but came out in the third quarter flat. The Panthers scored eight points in the third, watching their slim margin turn into a 39-34 deficit.

Caleb Hall led the Panthers with 17 points, and JD Plough added 13. But Peninsula had a rough night shooting, going 16-for-49 (32.7 %) from the floor.

"No one, except the guys in our locker room, expected us to be in the situation to knock off the No. 1 seed on the road," Quinlan said. "This team was a group of high character guys that gave everything they had for the program and represented Peninsula the right way."

A senior-heavy squad, Peninsula finished third place in the Bay League and went into Tuesday's game having reeled of five consecutive wins, including a 79-66 victory over Murrieta Mesa in last Friday's second round.

Quinlan and Peninsula will have the tough task of replacing seniors Hall, Plough, Troy Simpkins, Luke Frasso and Jordan Pineda next season.

"This group showed our younger guys that anything is possible when you work hard and play for each other," Quinlan said. "We didn't play our best basketball during league, but something clicked after back to back losses to Mira Costa and Leuzinger.

"The seniors could have thrown in the towel, but they dug deep and decided to persevere through the rough patch instead. They played physical and as a team, and that was the difference." 

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