Here’s the good news for the Peninsula Seahawks boys basketball team: Cole Muilenburg, the team’s 6-foot, 6-inch senior guard who suffered a leg injury during last football season and missed all of the 2022-23 basketball season, is back and healthy.
The bad news: Isaiah Brown, the Seahawks all-conference guard and leading scorer last season, tore his ACL in August and is out for the 2023-24 season.
Some more good news, though: younger guys get to step up and make an immediate impact this season.
But some more bad news: Will Wheatley-Ross, another starter from last year’s team, also tore his ACL recently and may be out for the season.
“I’ve never faced the adversity of losing such key players like this,” said Sean Muilenburg, who is in his second season as the boys' head coach and fifth overall with the program. “But it’s a great opportunity for some of our younger guys.”
At this point, it’s not a rebuilding year for the Seahawks, who went 8-12 overall and 5-9 in South Sound Conference play; it’s a reloading year. Names like seniors Reece Redal and Joaquin Jackson, junior Isaac Shultz-Tate and sophomore Troy Arnold will be heard a little more this year. Freshmen like Brendan Taylor and Muilenburg’s youngest son Aiden might see some playing time after getting their feet wet at the junior varsity level.
“We were missing Cole last season,” the coach said about his oldest son. “But losing Isaiah (this season) definitely hurts — he could’ve been the league MVP.” Muilenburg added that Brown played a majority of the conference season last year with bruised ribs. “He is tough as heck.”
The speed his team has this year, though, gives Coach Muilenburg something to get excited about. The boys play man-to-man defense and he wants to push the ball up the court with a faster-paced offense. Rebounding is another area he sees will improve, especially with Cole back.
“Some of our (losses last year) came down to rebounding and Cole is a big, aggressive rebounder,” Muilenburg said. “We lost a few we shouldn’t have.”
The Seahawks once again face a tough conference schedule. Last season PHS was 6-2 heading into January and only won two more games after that. He thinks Timberline and North Thurston will give SSC teams the most heartburn.
The youth that will make up this year’s Seahawks squad is pretty appropriate seeing as Muilenburg and girls coach Hannah Lekson are building a basketball culture in the middle schools that feed into PHS. His goal this year is to encourage more athletes from Key Peninsula Middle School to participate in both playing and coming to support the Seahawks during the season.
“KPMS has some great athletes. We need to make it more accessible for them to participate. It’s an important piece for Hannah and myself,” Muilenburg said.
“There’s a lot to be excited about for our future.”
The PHS boys first game is against Bainbridge Island Nov. 29. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. Their conference season starts Dec. 6 at Central Kitsap
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