Pirates dominate three games during winter break

Christian Hasson shoots for two points in the Dec. 29 game against Cashmere. - Bill Gage photo
Christian Hasson shoots for two points in the Dec. 29 game against Cashmere.
— image credit: Bill Gage photo

The Pirate boys’ basketball team had a busy winter break, beating three teams from across the state in games on Vashon and in Yakima.

Team takes two at Sundome

On Dec. 29 and 30, the Vashon varsity team made a triumphant return to the gymnasium where they won their first ever state championship last year. Fourteen boys and 14 girls teams participated in the 2009 Sundome Shootout in Yakima on these two days.

Vashon’s first opponent was Cashmere, a central Washington 1A team. Cashmere played spirited basketball and kept the game close for the first half.

Vashon helped its opponent by displaying loose ballhandling and lackadasical passing, resulting in many turnovers.

In the first quarter all of Vash-on’s points were scored by two

players, John Gage and Alex Wegner, with nine points each. Vashon played strong defense, including five blocked shots by Gage, and the team held Cashmere to 13 points for an 18-13 lead at the end of the quarter.

The same pattern persisted in the second quarter, with Vashon’s defense holding Cashmere to seven points and turnovers keeping Vashon from taking advantage. The half ended with Vashon leading 27-20.

Again Gage and Wegner dominated the Pirate scoring, with Quinn Holert making the only other basket for Vashon during the quarter.

As snow began to fall heavily outside the Sundome, Vashon came out of the halftime break with a change in strategy.

Instead of the guards and forwards attempting three-pointers — on which Vashon was only two of 12 for the game — the Pirates started to drive to the basket to take advantage of Cashmere collapsing its defense on Gage.

This created scoring opportunities for other players, including Matt Amick and Elias Weston, who had four points each in the quarter. Other players scoring baskets in the third period were Tyler Stoffer, Dan Lofland and, of course, Wegner and Gage. Corey Williamson came in for Gage, getting several rebounds. The quarter ended with Lofland putting in an offensive rebound and Vashon extending its lead to 45-30.

A rested Gage took control in the fourth quarter, scoring nine points as Cashmere had to defend other players. All team members making the trip were able to play, including Hamzah Griffin and Jesse Hazzard, who took a hard charge as the game came to an end at Vashon 67, Cashmere 41.

Gage dominated in the paint and ended up with nine blocked shots for the game. Scoring for Vashon in the game were Gage 25, Wegner 18, Weston 7, Amick 4, Lofland 4, Stoffer 3, Matt Kerns 2, Christian Hasson 2 and Holert 2.

Vashon’s opponent on Dec. 30 was 1A Colville. Vashon displayed none of the sloppy play exhibited in the first half of the Cashmere game, which allowed the team to jump to an early first quarter lead despite cold shooting. Gage scored 11 points in the quarter. Wegner and Stoffer had several steals, and Holert and Stoffer each had a basket. Vashon’s defense was again stellar, holding Colville to six points to Vashon’s 15.

Inside play for the Pirates continued to be strong with an offensive rebound and basket by Dan Lofland and a steal under the basket by Corey Williamson. The score at the half was Vashon 27, Colville 15.

The third quarter was dominated by Vashon, which went on a 13-0 scoring run at one point, blowing the game wide open.

Gage had a dunk off of a Wegner assist. Wegner also had a dunk as well as a three-point basket. The score at the end of the third quarter was Vashon 48, Colville 23.

Vashon kept the pressure up in the fourth quarter with another dunk by Gage, a steal and basket by Wegner and two steals by Hasson. The only negative in the quarter was a bad ankle sprain suffered by Stoffer.

Again, all players contributed to the victory, with a final score of Vashon 56, Colville 32. Gage again dominated defensively with seven blocked shots. Vashon scoring for the game was Gage 28, Wegner 12, Holert 5, Kerns 3, Stoffer 2, Weston 2, Lofland 2 and Amick 2.

Pirates beat Steilacoom

The Pirate boys’ basketball team came from behind to nip a strong Steilacoom Sentinels team at the wire, 47-44, on Saturday. The non-league contest between former conference rivals was exciting but not always close. The experienced and aggressive Sentinels came in rated eighth in 2A statewide. They pushed the Pirates to the wall, building a 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Pirates battled back and finally caught the Sentinels in the final minute, holding on for the win.

Pirate turnovers were the story in the early going. Picked off passes by the Sentinels, including one for a score with 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter, threatened to sink the Pirate ship before it even left the dock. The Pirates could not find their rhythm, but it was not for lack of trying. When they did try to pick up the tempo, they created even more turnovers by forcing things.

Fans witnessed a classic battle in the paint between last season’s 1A and 2A Nisqually League MVPs. Stanford-bound six-foot-nine-inch Pirate bigman Gage was up against an athletic Sentinel six-foot-five-inch Kelvin Penn. Each player had a huge impact on both ends of the court. Gage came out on top in blocks and points.

Wegner had a monster game on defense, rebounding and blocking shots throughout the game. During a short sequence in the final minute, he managed to block two shots and come up with a huge rebound to get the Pirates on top.

While Gage and Wegner were occupying Steilacoom’s attention, Holert repeatedly slipped between Sentinel defenders to rack up 12 points in the game.

The crowd’s favorite of the night, however, was a rebound by Amick with 10 seconds to go in the third. Amick dribbled the length of the court and scored on a 12-foot runner just as the buzzer sounded.

The crowd erupted — just the motivator the Pirates needed to claw their way back into the game.

Against the Steilacoom Sentinels, Pirate points were as follows: Gage 19, Wegner 9, Kerns 2, Holert 12, Weston 3, Amick 2, Stoffer, Griffin.

After the game, coach Andy Sears lauded his boys’ “toughness” in pulling out the win. He also took his hat off to the Sentinals, saying, “Give them a lot of credit — they are a really good team.” In assessing his team at this point in the season, Sears pointed out the need for more consistency.

“We have some really good stretches,” Sears said. “We play pretty awesome at times. We got one of those at the end of this game that put us over the top.”

The Pirates played at Orting yesterday and host the Seattle Christian Warriors at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8, in the Pirate gym.

— Charlie Pieterick is the father of Pirate alum Chris Pieterick. Jay Williamson is the father of Pirate Corey Williamson.

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