Pirates see repeat losses at Yakima tournament

Skies were clear and the air was cold and brisk in Yakima for the annual SunDome Shootout, but the sun didn’t shine on the Vashon High School boys basketball team. They came away with losses in both of the non-league games played on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 29 and 30.

Wednesday night the Pirates faced the Zillah High School Leopards and slasher Mitchell Zapien, reported to be one of the top 1A players in the state. The Vashon defense came well prepared to contest every basket, but struggled with rebounding and gave their opponents second and third chances to put the ball in.

Alex Wegner scored the first points of the game, hitting with his signature pull-up jumper, but Zillah scored two more baskets and a free throw before the Pirates put any more points on the board. Midway through the first quarter, Vashon was down 2-5.

Coming back on the court from a time-out, the Pirates pulled ahead to a 7-5 lead off of baskets by Adrian Arceo and Ben Whitaker. Then Hamzah Griffin made a free throw. With five seconds left on the clock, Wegner was called for a controversial double dribble right before he put up a shot. Zillah took possession and hit a three-pointer to end the first quarter at 10-7.

In spite of a foot injury, Kyle Bakker came in during the second quarter and started pulling down the rebounds. The teams kept even, and Zillah held a 19-16 lead at halftime.

Plagued by turnovers and aggressive traveling calls, the Pirates fell behind in the third quarter and by the end, Zillah led 30-22. The Pirates came roaring back in the fourth and scored eight unanswered points to tie the game at 30-30 midway through the final quarter. But Zillah was able to convert off Pirate turnovers, and the game ended in a 33-42 loss for the Pirates.

Coach Andy Sears said the Pirates needed to execute better. “This was a good team, but we can match up with them,” he said.

Thursday night, the Pirates came back to the SunDome court to battle a very physical Connell team. Vashon shot ahead to a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter on baskets by Griffin and Arceo and a pair of Wegner free throws. Wegner hit two more baskets and another pair of free throws to give the Pirates a 12-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Wegner took advantage of the bonus situation, hitting both halves of a one-and-one, then followed with a two-point basket off of a Pirate steal. Jeff Rauma was denied a basket with a traveling call before his shot. Stoffer hit one of two free throws midway through the quarter. Wegner put in two more free throws and two field goals, giving the Pirates a 21-13 lead at halftime.

Trouble started for the Pirates early in the third quarter. Wegner made one of two free throws, then Griffin went to the line to shoot two. But while the officials at the scoring table argued over the number of fouls on a Connell player, they missed giving Griffin credit for his second shot. The Pirates didn’t score again until Wegner hit the first of a one-and-one with three seconds left on the clock. Meanwhile Connell put in 12 and Vashon fell behind 24-25.

Griffin sunk for two at the start of the fourth, followed by a goal from Connell. The teams traded leads several times, but Vashon was down by two with 38 seconds left in the game. Wegner sunk two free throws, then picked off a Connell pass to drive in for a final shot. Pirate fans saw him blocked twice on the way in, but the referee saw something different and the game went into overtime, tied at 37-37.

Vashon played the overtime period without Griffin, who had picked up his fifth foul while contesting a rebound late in the fourth. Connell put in four points, then Matt Dick answered with a three-pointer, bringing the Pirates back within one. But Vashon didn’t score again until Wegner put in two with 15 seconds left. The Pirates were defeated 42-48.

— Glenna Mileson is the mother of Pirate Alex Wegner.

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