Girls’ hoopsters fall to tough teams

The Pirate girls’ basketball team dropped two games in the Sundome Shootout in Yakima during winter break.

The Pirates opened play against number-one ranked Granger and fell to the powerhouse team 48-28 on Tuesday, Dec. 29.

The Pirate defense was steady, holding the Spartans to 30 points through the first three quarters.

But Vashon had an uncharacteristically poor shooting night both from the field and from the line, missing 14 free throws over the course of the game.

“One of the reasons we wanted to come to the Sundome was to get some experience shooting in an environment where the backboards appear to be hanging in space,” said Pirate coach Henry Porter.

Down by one point after the first quarter, the Pirates contended with a six-minute stretch during which they did not score a point.

“We struggled with free throws, and we could barely draw iron with shots from outside 15 feet, especially after Granger went from man-to-man to a two-three zone. On a normal shooting night, this is exactly what we would love to have our opponents do.”

The shooting woes continued in the third quarter with the Pirates down 30-16 going into the fourth quarter. Vashon rallied in the fourth but could not cut the Granger lead to less than eight points.

Trailing by nine late in the fourth quarter, the Pirates were forced to foul in order to get the ball back with time to attempt a comeback. Granger capitalized from the line and scored six additional points in the last minute en route to a 48-28 final score.

Pirate scoring was led by Chrissy Swope, who finished the game with 11 points.

The game was not over until late in the evening, and when the Pirates left the Sundome after 10 p.m., they were greeted with three inches of fresh snow.

On the way back to the hotel, the Pirates stepped out of the bus to order food at an otherwise empty Sonic Drive-In.

The team proved their collective shooting woes did not extend to throwing snowballs, as their aims were true, catching Porter with a barrage of snowballs.

The Pirates returned to the Sundome on Wednesday, Dec. 30, to take on La Salle — a team that finished third at the state tournament in 2009 — and again fell to a strong opponent.

The Lightning defense featured a relentless full court press, and Vashon’s shooting woes continued, but still the Pirates took a 17-16 lead to the half.

Down six points at the start of the fourth quarter, the Pirates were unable to make free throws and were forced for a second consecutive night to foul late in the quarter to try to get the ball back en route to a 46-32 loss.

The Pirates only managed to score four points in the fourth quarter.

“We will bounce back from this,” said Porter. “We are really a much better free throw shooting team than we showed, and we have a couple of additional adjustments to make in our press break so that we do not completely fatigue our guards.”

“The Sundome tournament experience was good for us, as it helped us define a couple of holes we need to plug heading into league play,” he added.

The Pirates took on Orting on Tuesday and face perennial nemesis Seattle Christian at home at 5:30 p.m. Friday night. Friday’s game features a match-up of the top two teams in the Nisqually League standings.

— Gary Means is the father of Pirate Kiki Means.

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