Basketball: Vashon boys subdue Life Christian Eagles, 76-62

Matt Kerns lays the ball up through the Life Christian defense. - Bill Gage photo
Matt Kerns lays the ball up through the Life Christian defense.
— image credit: Bill Gage photo

A school’s character is revealed in how it ushers in its basketball games.  

On Tuesday, Life Christian’s announcer directed everyone to stand while a lone electric guitar twanged the national anthem. Before fans could sit, their star player, Drew Curry, gave a short prayer. Chants bellowed by Eagle fans sporting red, white and blue clashed with cheers from Pirates wearing green and gold. Meanwhile, 16 Life Christian cheerleaders repeatedly executed a complicated throw-the-shortest-girl-into-the-air routine perfectly as fans streamed into the cramped Tacoma gym.  Finally, the anticipated moment arrived: tip-off.

Vashon starters John Gage, Quinn Holert, Matt Kerns, Alex Wegner and Elias Weston led the battle.

Gage’s tip went easily to Wegner, but a Pirate turnover allowed the Eagles to score first.

Vashon struggled to find its offensive rhythm while the Eagle’s defense triangulated Gage. When Vashon’s passes finally started hitting their mark, the Pirates’ flag began to rise. Weston dropped in two points before a referee called the Eagles into account. When Tyler Stoffer entered the fray, he immediately contributed by blocking a shot.  

Fans roared with approval as Holert, Wegner and the Eagles’ Curry rained a quick succession of three-pointers.

Kern’s slice to the basket was matched by an Eagle two. Stoffer’s confident pass to Gage was repaid with a quick return, and Stoffer scored two. With one minute remaining, Hamzah Griffin joined the Pirate effort. At the end of the first quarter, Vashon had a narrow lead, 17-14.

Life Christian’s Curry ignited the second quarter by sailing two three-pointers through the hoop. An overshot Eagles pass landed in a garbage can near the bleachers. No points.

After carefully wiping the ball, the referee put it back into play. Weston and Gage scored and Kerns was fouled. His free throw tied the game at 24. The Eagles added a basket before Wegner’s three-pointer relit Vashon’s fuse. Christian Hasson was welcomed aboard with less than two minutes remaining. Vashon was ahead 36-31 at halftime.

In classic Pirate fashion, Vashon thundered into the third quarter. While Eagles defenders maypoled around Gage, Holert slipped to the basket for two. 

Following another three-pointer by Wegner, Coach Andy Sears called a time-out with five and a half minutes remaining.

As more Pirates passes hit their mark, a cloudburst of Pirate points lit up the scoreboard. An injury timeout was called with a minute and a half left on the clock, and Life Christian’s Jordan King was helped off the court. Weston drained another two-pointer as the buzzer ended the third quarter. Vashon surged to a double-digit lead, 62-51.

The Pirates looked frustrated early in the fourth quarter.

Moves Vashon characteristically executes with ease were lumbering. Team members fought over and fumbled rebounds and easy lay-ups fell short.

The Eagles were hungry for a win and weren’t about to give an inch, especially to Gage. Life Christian’s first quick basket of the quarter was followed by fouls called on Kerns and Weston. Sears sent in Dan Lofland.

With five minutes left in the game, the Eagles were scoring bonus points. Not to worry, the Pirates weren’t done. Before the Pirates started playing keep-away, Kerns and Holert each hit three-pointers. Vashon won 76-62.  

Vashon headed into Monday’s 2010 King Holiday Hoopfest in Seattle having won eight straight games. The Pirates played King’s High School at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the University of Washington. Results from that game will be available in next week’s Beachcomber. For more news about the Pirate basketball team, visit

— Wendy Gage is the mother of Pirate John Gage.

Pirate points vs. Life Christian

Weston 17, Gage 16, Wegner 14, Holert 13, Amick 7, Kerns 6, Stoffer 3, Griffin, Hasson, Lofland

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