Pirates take a bite out of third-ranked Cougars

John Gage throws in two points over Cascade Christian’s defense on Jan. 10. - Bill Gage photo
John Gage throws in two points over Cascade Christian’s defense on Jan. 10.
— image credit: Bill Gage photo


For The Beachcomber

The sweet taste of winning is fast becoming a staple of Pirates basketball. On Jan. 11, they savored the taste of the Cascade Christian Cougars.

Being longtime rivals, both top-ranked Nisqually League teams had an emotionally charged matchup Saturday.

A huge Vashon crowd cheered relentlessly as their Pirates emerged onto the Cougar court in classy new black uniforms.

The Pirate cheerleaders, also dressed in black, waved splashy gold pompoms to the chants of what looked like the entire Vashon football team — painted black. It was going to be a dark and stormy night both inside and outside of Cascade’s standing-room-only gym.

Tip-off went like clockwork to Thomas Timm-Skove. A flurry of 2- and 3-pointers and semi-successful trips to the foul line registered 11 points for both teams by the end of the first quarter.

Coach Andy Sears called time-out only minutes into the second quarter after a steady stream of Cougar counters shot through the hoop.

Regrouped and refocused, the Pirates thundered an answer as Chris Pieterick and Max Burnham bolted to join Timm-Skove and Alex Wegner in the Pirates’ 3-pointer posse.

Dropping 5 of 7 free throws, the Pirates exited at the halftime buzzer with the score tied at 21.

Halftime is when critical adjustments are made. It was a safe bet the Cougars would continue to drape two to three players all over Pirate John Gage when the ball came his way.

So, while the Cougars were consumed with holding down “big John,” Pirate pals Timm-Skove, Burnham and Wegner power-hosed balls into the hoop. This time sinking 4 of 5 free throws, Vashon outscored Cascade Christian 20 to 9 in the third quarter.

When Cougar sharpshooter Jonnie Washburn bolted a 3-pointer into the basket at the onset of the fourth quarter, Cascade Christian fans went wild. Timm-Skove immediately answered with a Pirate 3-pointer. Vashon fans erupted. Back and forth, the teams and fans volleyed points and pointed chants.

With five minutes left in the game, Pirate Matt Kerns buried the last 3-pointer of the night. Another flurry of spot-on shooting ensued.

Cougars were left in foul trouble. From the top of the key, John Gage and Max Burnham each sunk two free throws. With less than a minute left, Vashon’s Black Tide chanted ominously “It’s all over! It’s all over!” while John Gage batted down two final Cougar attempts.

The Pirate defense was terrific. After eight games this season, the Cougars’ average was 62 points per game, but Vashon limited them to just 43.

Thomas Timm-Skove scored his season high of 18 points, while point guard Max Burnham hit well above his season average at 12 points.

The Pirates play Cascade Christian again at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, at home.

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