Sports

Top-ranked Pirates stretch their winning streak to seven

John Gage powers to the basket over the Orting Cardinals. - Bill Gage photo
John Gage powers to the basket over the Orting Cardinals.
— image credit: Bill Gage photo

By TORI BERLINER and CHARLIE PIETERICK

For The Beachcomber

The Vashon High School Pirate boys’ basketball team notched two wins last week in Nisqually 1A/2B League play. On Tuesday, they swallowed the Orting Cardinals whole, 75-43, and on Friday they chewed chunks off the Seattle Christian Warriors, to win 65-41.

Vashon takes Orting down

The Pirates clinched a predicted victory last Tuesday night, defeating Orting 75-43.

Throughout the second game of 2010, the entire team showed a strong attitude and determined spirit. Although Orting did not provide intense competition, Vashon kept it classy on the court.

Within the first five seconds Orting scored, opening up the possibility for an unpredicted challenge. But that fear lapsed in no time.

The Pirates took control and began raking in the points. Alex Wegner flaunted his graceful talent and quickly scored 12 points by the end of the first. Matt Kerns was fouled while attempting a three-pointer, resulting in three successful free throws. The quarter ended with a 24-9 lead.

In the second quarter, Vashon remained dominant as key players scored points with ease. John Gage and Wegner were a strong force, as usual. But fouls began to slow down the pace.

Orting took several free throw shots, gaining a few points on the scoreboard. The repetitious calls of the referee went unnoticed as the Pirates persisted with tough defense and made great steals.

At the beginning of the third quarter, the Pirates seemed to slow down offensively and defensively. But within a minute, the Pirates once again kicked it into drive and began adding to their score.

Quinn Holert made a beautiful three-point swish, leaving the crowd satisfied. A night for threes, Elias Weston made two more perfectly formed shots. Points accumulated on the scoreboard, and Orting fans grew a bit tired.

A man sitting at the top of the bleachers took a ukulele out and began strumming as the athletes continued to play on. Hamzah Griffin proved worthy of his post position, coming off the bench, making an offensive rebound and then laying it up for two points. The quarter ended sweetly, with a thrilling three scored by Kerns at the buzzer. The Pirates rounded out the third quarter, 63-33.

The fourth quarter was an exciting time for faces less familiar — Corey Williamson, Jesse Hazard and Dan Lofland — to show their impact. Hazard showed his aggressive attitude as soon as he stepped on the court, making a defensive rebound. The next play was long, but Laughlin finished it off with a smooth jump shot for two.

The fouls persisted for both Orting and Vashon, as the competition struggled to keep up with Vashon’s keen playing.

Williamson made an offensive rebound and laid it back up into the hoop as all of his teammates cheered excitedly. Christian Hasson also made a notable three.

The Pirates ended victorious but remained sportsmanlike, showing respect to the defeated team.

Pirates humble Warriors

It took the Pirates a while to show up against Seattle Christian on Friday. The Warriors struck first and battled the Pirates toe-to-toe in the early going. Vashon pressured the Warriors full-court from the start, while Seattle Christian packed in their defense around Pirate big man and leading scorer, Gage. Each defense disrupted their opponents’ respective game plans and forced turnovers.

The Pirates began to get an upper hand late in the quarter off two stolen inbound passes. On the first, Weston immediately converted for two. On the second, Wegner’s stolen pass went around the horn, bang-bang-bang, before being converted for another two by Weston.

It would be great to say, “From there, the Pirates never looked back,” but Vashon allowed Seattle Christian to stay close. The Warriors closed within seven points early in the third period.

That was when Pirate basketball finally took over: A series of great defensive plays became the fuse for a classic Pirate surge. Gage had a defensive denial down low and followed on the offensive end with a strong move to the hoop for a score. Vashon forced the Warriors to burn up the shot clock on another possession. Weston stood in to take a hard charge. Amick had a steal, Gage a block, and Kerns a steal off an athletically high “corner back” tip, which he controlled down court for two.

In Pirate coach Andy Sears’ system, defense creates offense. While the Warriors continued to pack in around Gage, Vashon found its inside-out game. Back-to-back threes by Wegner and a third three by Kerns as the quarter came to an end put the Pirates up 52-31. And from there, they never looked back.

The Pirates played away at Life Christian yesterday. At 9:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18, the number-one ranked Pirates play the number-two ranked Knights of King’s High School at the University of Washington’s Bank of America Pavilion. It is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Hoopfest. The next Pirate boys’ home game is 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, at the Vashon gym.

— Tori Berliner is a Vashon High School senior. Charlie Pieterick is the father of Pirate alum Chris Pieterick.

 

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