Pirates reach NWAC Final Four

EVERETT - The Pirates won back-to-back games at the 2018 Northwest Athletic Conference Basketball Championships last weekend to punch their ticket to the Final Four where they tip off at 2 p.m. March 17 against Linn-Benton in the first of two Saturday semifinals.

The Final Four trip is the second for Peninsula under head coach Mitch Freeman, who took his team there in 2014-15 in his second year at the helm of the Pirates. That team placed third, but this year's PC men have their sites set on the NWAC championship. Standing in the way are the Linn-Benton Road Runners.

The two teams have a lot in common. Peninsula is ranked No. 8 in the latest NWAC Under Armour Coaches' Poll, just behind seventh-ranked Linn-Benton. The Pirates finished second in the North Region with a 9-5 record, 21-10 overall. The Road Runners placed second in the South Region at 10-6 and 22-9.

In their only meeting of the year, back on Dec. 30, the Pirates defeated the Albany, Oregon men 77-72 at the Clackamas Holiday Tournament.

The Pirates advanced to the Final Four with an 87-74 opening round victory over Clackamas and then a 69-59 win over fifth-ranked South Puget Sound in the Elite 8. The Road Runners, meanwhile, knocked off a strong Edmonds team, 81-72, and followed that up with an 84-75 Elite 8 victory over the defending NWAC champion and third-ranked Walla Walla Warriors.

The winner of Saturday's 2 p.m. semifinal match will take on the winner of the 4 p.m. semi, pitting second-ranked Portland against North Idaho, ranked in a tie for fifth in the latest poll, in the 2018 NWAC Championship, set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday. All games are at Everett Community College.

The semifinal and final games will be live-streamed at NWAC Sports Network.