EVERETT, Wash. — Linn-Benton Community College was within striking distance with just under five minutes left, but the Roadrunners didn’t have one more run in them on Saturday.
The best season in program history came to an end with an 89-75 loss to Peninsula in the semifinals of the Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament.
LB finishes the season 22-10, the most wins since the 1972-73 season.
“Certainly today does not define our season,” coach Everett Hartman said. “We had a great year, won a lot of games, lot of close games. But it’s tough to end this way, no question.”
Taylor Jensen led the Roadrunners with 17 points while Trey Ecker added 10. Bailey Evers had nine and Christopher Morsa eight. Twelve players scored at least three points for LB.
Six players scored in double figures for Peninsula, led by Colby Jackson's 20. Peninsula defeated LB 77-72 in a tournament at the Clackamas Holiday Invitational on Dec. 30.
The Pirates also dominated the glass on Saturday, outrebounding LB 47-29. They had a 24-13 edge in the second half.
“That was a huge statistic there,” Hartman said.
So was the discrepancy at the foul line, where Peninsula had a huge advantage by making 27 of 32 attempts while the Roadrunners shot just six, making four.
“It’s really hard to overcome those numbers,” Hartman said.
Down 43-40 at the half, the Roadrunners tied the game at 48-all on a Morsa layup.
Peninsula pushed the lead back to six at 58-52 before LB scored four straight to make it a two-point deficit with 9:32 to play.
That’s about the time the Roadrunners were able to pull away in the first two games of the tournament — wins over Edmonds (81-72) and Walla Walla (84-75). LB trailed at the half in both games.
But it wasn’t in the cards on Saturday as the Pirates used an 8-2 run to regain control.
Down 70-61, the Roadrunners scored four straight and were down five with 4:23 to play.
However, the Pirates went on a 10-2 run to put it way.
The Roadrunners took a 19-11 lead on an Ecker 3 with 11:11 left in the first half, and were up 24-18 with 9:01 left.
Peninsula used a 12-2 run to take a 30-26 lead with 5:14 to play in the half.
The Pirates looked to take control at the end of the half, using a 6-0 run to lead 43-37 with 1:16 to play.
Matt Ismay’s 3 with 49 seconds left got the Roadrunners within 43-40 at the break.
LB was 7 for 15 from 3 in the first half while Peninsula countered by going 10 for 12 from the free-throw line.
“I’m extremely proud of this group, as students and athletes and young men,” Hartman said. “We told last year’s team they poured the foundation and I told this year’s team they built the house and roofed it and that hopefully next year’s team will add on and finish the landscaping.”
The Roadrunners lose six sophomores — Ecker, Morsa, Cooper Getsfrid, Carter Flora, Jake Sundquist and Brady Ford.
“We really like all seven of our freshmen and as far as we know right now all seven are coming back,” Hartman said. “We did talk to them a little bit about the offseason work we expect from them in the spring and summer.
“Our success has really influenced our recruiting. I think our recruiting class will be the best recruiting class we have had. We told the kids our goal next year is to get back to the Final Four and try to do a little bit better.”