Boys basketball secures Nisqually League crown

Josh Cox shoots over the Warriors’ defense Feb. 3 in his first appearance for the Pirates varsity. - Bill Gage photo
Josh Cox shoots over the Warriors’ defense Feb. 3 in his first appearance for the Pirates varsity.
— image credit: Bill Gage photo

The Vashon High School boys’ Pirate basketball team clinched its fifth consecutive Nisqually League title last week by defeating Seattle Christian at the Vashon High School gym on Feb. 3.

Despite missing three varsity players because of illness, the Pirates put on their customary display of hustle, teamwork and skill to show why they are the number-one ranked 1A team in the state of Washington.

Many Pirate parents recall that in their youth the term “bad” was used to mean “good” or “amazing.” These days, young people often use the term “sick” to mean the same thing.

Well, last week the Pirates were “sick” in both senses of the word. The Pirates were short three players to a wicked flu bug, including their leading scorer, six-foot nine-inch John Gage.

Other Pirates played despite nursing a version of the crud. The sick Pirates were still able to assert a “sick” dominance over the weaker Warrior team.

Charlie Hoffman, only an inch shorter than Gage, asserted his inside presence on Vashon’s first possession when he cleaned up a rebound for a putback. He continued to rebound strongly throughout the game and used his long reach to intimidate Warrior shooters inside.

The Pirates swarmed Seattle Christian from one end of the court to the other, preying on Warrior mistakes to put together an opening 16-2 run.

That run was capped when Alex Wegner chased down his own rebound then spun back to put a leaner off the glass.

Quinn Holert came off the bench early and showed what he can do with a little extra playing time. Besides a great defensive effort, Holert hit back-to-back teardrop runners to get the Pirates to 20.

Chris Pieterick had his teammates thinking “Sick!” as he banked a last second three-pointer hard off the glass to end the first quarter 27-12.

Coach Andy Sears looked pleased with his team as they huddled between quarters.

Sears values hard playing and seemed satisfied at the effort his sick boys were making. Still, he exhorted them not to settle to the opponent’s level of play.

“We’re not about trading baskets. We’re about getting (defensive) stops!” he reminded them as they retook the hardwood.

And stop the Warriors they did. They forced Seattle Christian into poor shots and patrolled the passing lanes for steals.

Max Burnham, “Pirate-in-Chief,” was particularly sick. Besides directing the Pirates potent offense, he finished with a game-high 15 points of his own. By the half, the Pirates were up 41-20.

The Pirates and Warriors traded baskets early in the second half. But after Hoffman rose up to reject a Warrior shot, the Pirates went on a 6-0 run off a Pieterick putback and two slashing drives by Thomas Timm-Skove.

During a Warrior-called time-out, Coach Sears urged his players, “Keep going! Let’s go!”

Burnham led the charge. He drove into the heart of the Warrior defense, splitting two defenders in a sick twisting pretzel move to the basket.

He collected an extra free throw for his efforts. He followed that with a conventional three.

Wegner sliced in off a fast break and was fouled. After a brief break to clean his blood off the floor (now the Pirates were both sick and wounded), he sunk both of the resulting free throws.

Odin Jacobovitch then made a deft reverse-spin off the low post, putting up a left-hander to put the finish on a 16-0 Pirate run. Vashon was up 60-26 at the third quarter break.

With the game well in hand, the Pirates continued to thrill with their hard work and skill. Holert took a rebound full court for a nice runner off the glass.

Senior Josh Cox, in his first varsity appearance, got himself in position down low to take an Elias Weston assist for another two.

Jacobovitch contributed more points from the low block and took a charge on the Warrior end to force a late turnover. The final score: 68-42.

Maybe the Pirates are onto something. Whatever virus they have, they are playing really “sick.”

The Pirates host the Charles Wright Academy Tarriers for senior night, their last league game, at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13. Come catch the fever.

— Charlie Pieterick is the father of Pirate Chris Pieterick.

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