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Hoopsters on hot streak
By BRIAN BRENNO and Ezra LACINA
The Vashon Pirate boys basketball team played two games at the Yakima Sundome Shootout on Dec. 26 and 27, coming away with two wins, a 7-0 record for the season and a number-three state ranking in the 1A division.
In the first game against the Ridgeview Spudders, the Pirates came out a bit lethargically and were playing the tournament without starter Noah Chee, who was away for the holidays. After the Spudders hit two 3-pointers early, Thomas Douglas got things started for the Pirates with a 3 from the baseline; Jessie Norton found success driving the lane; Sam Yates hit two threes; Owen Brenno and Josh Tillman each scored, and the Pirates were up 32- 28 at halftime.
After trading leads in the first half, the Pirates came out with intensity in the second half and built a 10-point lead. One of the keys to their success was spreading the scoring around between seven players. Norton and Yates led scoring, with Steen Jennings hitting a 3 in the third quarter and Ian Stewart, Tillman, Douglas and Brenno all scoring. While not taking over the game, the Pirates never trailed in the second half and won 55-48
The second day the Pirates faced 2A Bremerton. This game they came out and attacked, playing good defense and productive offense. Yates made a nice move to the basket to bring the Pirates up by 8 at the end of the first quarter. A tough Pirate defense kept Bremerton out of the paint. Norton hit two 3-pointers in the first at half, the start of a 31-point game. The Pirates led 33-16 at halftime.
The second half was a battle with Bremerton coming out fired up with relentless defense, setting the tempo for the rest of the game. In the third quarter, Bremerton went on a 10-point run because of Pirate turnovers. In this game the Pirates were unable to spread the scoring around, with Norton and Yates scoring a majority of the points. On another Bremerton run late in the game, Brenno, Norton and Daren May were able to score and slow Bremerton down. Then Jennings had a prefect block of a Bremerton shot to stuff them again. With 1:22 left, the Pirates led 59-54 and escaped with the win, 60 - 58.
At home following the tourament, the Pirates improved their record to 8-0 on the season with a 52-36 victory over Life Christian Academy.
On Friday, The Eagles made the journey across the sound to face the Pirates on their home court.
The game started with a bang for the Pirates, with Norton hitting a deep 3 on the first possession, but Life Christian answered with an immediate score of its own.
This is how the first quarter was, back and forth scoring, neither team able to pull away from the other. After one quarter, the score was knotted up at 15 all.
In the second quarter, the Pirates started to gain an edge on the Eagles. However, Life Christian was still able to put up 11 points in the second quarter. At half time Vashon was up 32-26.
The third quarter was a completely different game. The Pirates defense came alive allowing only 4 points in the period. The Eagles were still moving the ball around well and running their offense, but they could not score whatsoever. While the defense was shutting down any chance of scoring, the offense provided a boost on the other end of the court, pulling away with a commanding lead.
The junior duo of Stewart and Norton made their presence felt on both ends of the court, aggressively attacking the basket on offense and flying around on defense.
Period four revealed a different Life Christian team, but that didn’t change much. The Eagles’ level of intensity increased greatly in the fourth quarter, especially on the perimeter, not allowing open 3s. This made things a little harder for the Pirates, but they still found ways to score and did not allow Life Christian to score with efficiency.
The game ended with another Pirate victory, 52-36, and yet another Nisqually team taken down on the rock.
The team has a motto of “championship effort” this year, and each player is playing with the goal of returning to Yakima for the state championship playoffs. They are playing well as a team and thrive on crowd energy.
The Pirates play at home each Friday this month as well as Thursday, Jan. 30.
— Brian Brenno is the father of a Pirate, and Ezra Lacina is the sports editor of The Riptide.