Things may change on a year-to-year basis for high school sports programs, but fourth-year Peninsula boys basketball coach Ryan Quinlan has not changed his expectations.
"Our expectations are the same every year: we want to play a competitive nonleague schedule, improve every week and grow together as a team," Quinlan said. "And we want to be playing our best basketball in January to compete for a Bay League championship."
Peninsula's last league title came in 2010-11, when the Panthers went 30-3 before falling in the CIF Southern Section Division 2A semifinals.
The Panthers return juniors J.D. Plough and Caleb Hall, both of whom were All-Bay League selections as sophomores. Senior Dominic Blanco also returns to the starting rotation to give Peninsula a bit of experience on the inside.
"(Plough, Hall and Blanco) have been playing really well for us this year," Quinlan said.
Currently 11-8, Peninsula has gotten key contributions from across its roster. Senior John Skoblar and Justin Kim came in late following the extended season of the Panther football program, and juniors Troy Simpkins, Luke Frasso and Jordan Pineda have began to find their shot at key moments.
"(Skoblar and Kim) have given us a huge boost since returning from football," Quinlan said. "(Simpkins, Frasso and Pineda) are peaking at the right time."
Peninsula heads into 2019 winners of three of its last four games, and has already won its two Bay League contests, a pair of one-point victories over Mira Costa and Leuzinger.
And Quinlan knows how important it is for Peninsula to win its home league games.
"The key is to be able to control your five home games and they try to upset a couple on the road," Quinlan said. "The Bay League is so competitive and you never have a night off, especially with the addition of Leuzinger and Centennial."
Peninsula has won eight of the last 10 meetings against Hill rival Palos Verdes, and Quinlan has seen over the last three seasons how important it is to focus on the task at hand.
"It is really important to control all of the emotions pregame and block out all the external distractions," Quinlan said. "You have to stay composed at tip off and then just play Peninsula basketball."
One thing that sets the Peninsula-PV basketball games apart is the schools respective student sections. It its corner, Peninsula has 'The Zoo', while PV boasts the 'Red Tide'.
"The Zoo and Red Tide are unbelievably passionate during the games and pump up both teams," Quinlan said. "Every basketball fan needs to experience one game. You won't be disappointed."
Peninsula hosts PV Jan. 15 in the first of two meetings. The Panthers kick off their 2019 schedule Friday Jan. 4 at Price High, and resume league play Jan. 8 at Centennial.