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Milak Mayeux

PORT ANGELES – Pirate fans got a glimpse of what is possible for the 2015-16 Peninsula College men’s basketball team – namely a Northwest Athletic Conference championship – following a brilliant performance in its 95-86 season-opening victory over defending East Division champion Big Bend Friday night.

Those fans also witnessed the dark side – namely a low-scoring struggle against Highline on Saturday that resulted in a 60-55 setback for the Pirates.

However, the positive from Saturday’s loss was a team that overcame poor shooting, from the floor and the free throw line, and uncharacteristic turnovers, to come back and put themselves in a position to win against a very big and talented Highline team.

Next up for Peninsula is the Skagit Valley Turkey Tournament. The Pirates play Northwest Indian College in the tournament opener Friday at 2 p.m. Saturday’s game will be at 2 p.m. or 6 p.m. The tournament championship is set for 3 p.m. Sunday.

PORT ANGELES – The Peninsula College men’s basketball team opens its 2015-16 season with a pair of home games this weekend, while the Pirate women will begin the defense of their Northwest Athletic Conference title with a four-day, four-game road trip.

College basketball fans will get to see the Pirate men tip-off the new year at home against Big Bend at 7 p.m. Friday in a game that will have all the feel of the NWAC post season.

The Vikings went 23-9 last year to win the NWAC East Division, but were surprisingly two-and-out at the 2015 NWAC Basketball Championships. The Pirates, meanwhile, went 7-7 in conference play, narrowly qualifying for the tournament, but then surprised the field, winning three of four games to bring home a third-place NWAC trophy. They went 17-13 overall.

Coach Mitch Freeman

PORT ANGELES – The Peninsula College men’s basketball team was the surprise story of the Northwest Athletic Conference Basketball Championships last March, bringing home a third-place trophy, but don’t look for the Pirates to sneak up on anyone in this season.

Head coach Mitch Freeman and his staff have four starters back, they have eight sophomores with game experience, and they have an outstanding recruiting class – all looking to take the Pirates to the NWAC championship.

“We are excited about this year’s team and look to build off of how we finished last year,” Freeman said. “We return nine players and add six freshman, which gives the added depth to our team that we did not have last season. Our team was very excited with the way we finished last year but were also a little disappointed, which left them hungry and wanting more.”

The list of returners is headed up by Ryley Callaghan, a 6-1 sophomore guard from Port Orchard who led the Pirates in scoring with a 17.5 average, and assists at 2.7 last year.

Also putting up big numbers last year was Deonte Dixon, a 6-2 sophomore guard from Bremerton. He averaged an impressive 16.4 points per game.

Both Callaghan and Dixon were named to the North Division All-Conference Team in 2015.