PORT ANGELES – Head coach Mitch Freeman enters his fifth year with a Peninsula College men’s basketball team that has talent, shooters, height – and some local faces. The Pirates tip off their 2017-18 season at 4 p.m. Saturday at home against Mt. Hood.
“This team has a little bit of everything with size and strength inside, quality shooters at the guard and wing positions, and a point guard in Colby Jackson who knows how to bring everyone together,” Freeman said. “We should be a fun team to watch when we are able to put everything together.”
Peninsula went 19-9 last year and 9-5 in North Region play, good for second place behind Shoreline. The Pirates qualified for the 2017 NWAC Basketball Tournament where they beat Portland 70-62 in the first round and then bowed out in a 75-64 loss to Tacoma.
Mt. Hood went 16-12 and 9-7 last year, tying for third place in the South Region. The Saints also went two rounds, upsetting Shoreline 74-71 in the first round and then falling to Lower Columbia 85-78 in the quarterfinals.
In last year’s season opener at Gresham, Oregon, Peninsula outscored Mt. Hood 83-76, but both teams will look very different this year.
“We return five players from last year’s team, and of those five, two of them red-shirted,” Freeman said. “We recruited nine new players to this year’s team, including five freshmen and four transfers.”
Returning from last year’s team are Trent Warren, a 6-6 guard from Melbourne, Australia; Zach Day, a 6-4 wing from Las Vegas; and Blake Cosgrove, a 6-5 wing from Portland. All three saw playing time last year.
The Pirates also return red-shirts Colby Jackson, a 5-10 point guard from Las Vegas who transferred to Peninsula from the University of Alberta; and Elijah Williams, a 6-2 guard from Seattle.
Transferring to Peninsula this year are Cole Huish, a 6-3 wing from Salt Lake City, who played his freshman year at Western Wyoming Community College; Kaelin Crane, a 6-6 wing from Las Vegas who played for Green River last year; Cameron Burton, a 6-2 guard from Las Vegas who played at Central Washington University last year; and Emanuele Maneffa, a 6-1 guard from Milan, Italy, who red-shirted at Marshalltown College last year.
Joining the Pirates fresh out of high school are Marky Adams, a 6-10 post from Forks; Luke Angevine, a 6-4 wing from Port Angeles; Parker Browning, a 6-3 guard from Forks; Eli’sha Sheppard, a 6-5 wing from Kent; James Buckley, a 6-2 guard from Port Orchard; and Andrew Thomas a 5-6 guard from Dallas, Texas.
“This year’s roster has more local players than we’ve had in the last four years,” Freeman said. “We are very excited to have been able to have three quality individuals, and players, in Parker, Luke and Marky to be part of our PC Basketball family.”
Coach Freeman isn’t making predictions about how the Pirates will do.
“This year’s team is still learning how to be a team,” he said.
The Mt. Hood Saints, however, may be in the same boat, with only three sophomores on a roster of 14 players.
Saturday’s season opener tips off at 4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, veterans, alumni and students (13-17), and free for current Peninsula students and also children 12-under.
The Pirates will play 15 games in their non-conference schedule, with home games set for Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 against Green River and Tacoma in the annual First Federal Pirate Classic, and Jan. 4 against Highline in the final game before league play starts on Jan. 10.
Coach Freeman is assisted by Donald Rollman, in his second year out of Bremerton, and Brian Shirley, a Port Angeles native in his fourth year with the Pirates.