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Hoopsters qualify for Yakima tourney
The Pirate girls basketball team secured a spot at the state tournament with three consecutive wins, the third a nailbiter that wasn't won until the final moments of the game Feb. 27. The team plays its first state game on Wednesday, March 3, in Yakima.
On Feb. 23, the Vashon Pirates started the first round of tri-district tournament play with a loser-out home game against Bush High School.
The Pirates jumped out to an early lead, while their hustling defense stymied the Bush offense. The Pirates led at the half, 26-13.
Kelly Costello racked up a statistical double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds. The Pirate effort was abetted by points from Kiki Means (8), Elisa Wendt (6), Sophie Nespor (5), Chrissy Swope (4) and 2 each from Charlotte Kehoe, Cat Amick and Marya Munsey. Wendt and Swope added 8 rebounds each as Vashon dominated every statistical category on their way to a 52-26 win and the right to play the state fifth-ranked Lynden Christian High School in a winner-to-state second round match.
In the Feb. 25 match against the Lyncs, the first period ended with the Pirates down only five (16-11), but the Lyncs pounded the ball inside, and foul troubles resulted in the Pirates using a smaller lineup. By the half the Pirates were down, 20-36.
Halftime adjustments to the zone defense resulted in Vashon doing a much better job in the last two periods but the 16-point deficit held and Vashon lost, 34- 57. Costello (21) led the Pirates in scoring, aided by Wendt (6), Swope (5), Means (4), Nespor (4) and Kehoe (4).
“They are a talented and well-coached team,” said coach Henry Porter of the girls. “We had stretches of great play, but you cannot afford to give those guys a cushion.”
The loss on Thursday meant the Pirates had a final chance to go to the state tournament in a loser-out game against the Cascade Christian Cougars on Saturday, Feb. 27.
Vashon jumped out to an early lead on a three-pointer from Means as Vashon clung to a modest lead for all of the first half. Means led Vashon’s scoring in the first half, finishing the half with seven points. Costello added two threes of her own, despite frequent double-teams and tight man-to-man attention from the Cougar defense. Kehoe added six, with Wendt and Nespor each adding a bucket as Vashon took a 25-23 lead into the locker room at the half.
The second half was marked by an uncharacteristic ten teamwide turnovers. The Pirates trailed 28-30 with two minutes to go in the third when Costello hit two free throws to tie the score at 30. She followed with a quality 17-footer off a Swope screen as the Pirates retook the lead, 32-30. A fadeaway jumper late in the quarter gave Vashon a 34-31 lead heading into the fourth.
With Vashon leading 38-33 midway through the final quarter, the Cougars' point guard hit two consecutive three-point shots. Cascade Christian extended its lead to 38-40 at the 2:12 mark of the fourth quarter. Charlotte Kehoe put back a key offensive rebound to even the score at 40.
Both teams failed to score on their next possessions. Cat Amick came up with a key defense rebound that gave the Pirates the ball with 42 seconds on the game clock. Vashon worked the clock inside 20 seconds before setting up to hit a go-ahead bucket. A determined effort by Costello to get an open look was met with a fierce double-team as she dished the ball to Means on the left wing. Means penetrated and with one second on the shot clock — and 11.5 seconds in the game — was fouled as she tried to shoot. Means calmly hit both free throws, giving Vashon a 42-40 advantage.
The Pirates pressured the Cougars with in a full court man-to-man defense, and Wendt stymied a final wild effort to tie the game at the buzzer, and the Pirates advanced to state for the third straight year.
The Pirates’ first-round opponent is Granger High School. The game will be played in the Yakima Sundome at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 3.
— Gary Means is the father of Pirate Kiki Means.