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Basketball: Champion Vashon boys take a trio of games in one busy week
By DON OLSON
and CHARLIE PIETERICK
For The Beachcomber
The Vashon High School Pirate boys’ basketball team hit a milestone in its quest for a sixth consecutive Nisqually 1A/2B League title last week. After demolishing Charles Wright Academy on Wednesday, the Pirates finished the first half of the season undefeated in the league. They made easy work of Chimacum on Friday. On Monday, the Pirates had survived a close call against the state’s seventh-ranked Kings Knights in a showcase game at the Martin Luther King Hoopfest.
Vashon subdues Kings at MLK Hoopfest
The game against Kings was knotted at 53 each when Pirate point guard Elias Weston stepped to the line to shoot two free throws. Weston had just taken an inbound pass with 6.2 seconds on the clock and raced full court for a lay-in attempt. Fouled on the play, and with only 1.3 ticks left, Weston calmly hit both shots for the 55-53 win.
The game was close throughout, with neither team able to get more than a one-digit lead on the other. The Pirates appeared a bit anxious in the early going. Forcing Kings into several turnovers, they turned the ball over themselves on the resulting breakaway plays. Meanwhile, Kings burned Vashon four times on three-pointers to take a 31-29 lead into the half.
The Pirates put together a 10-3 third quarter to regain the lead. This included a key defensive stop at quarter’s end. They pushed the lead to seven points early in the fourth, but the Knights roared back behind their long ball shooting.
Gutsy play by two Pirates should be acknowledged. Alex Wegner came into the game on a heavily taped fresh ankle sprain, determined to make his customary contribution. John Gage was active all game under the basket, including blocks, rebounds, a steal, strong moves to the hoop and the taking of a hard charge. The determination of these two players defined the Pirate will to win this contest. For his efforts, Gage won the Player of the Game award.
Pirate Points against Kings were: Gage 31, Wegner 10, Matt Kerns 6, Weston 5, Matt Amick 3, Quinn Holert, Hamzah Griffin, Tyler Stoffer.
Pirates take the Tarriers for a walk
Against the Charles Wright Tarriers on Wednesday, the Pirates played as only they can. Starting out with crisp ball movement, the Pirates worked the inside-out game to perfection. With Tarriers defenders packed in around Gage, Holert put down a three-pointer on the first possession. Kerns added two more before the end of the first quarter.
Defensively, Vashon hounded the Tarriers from baseline to baseline. The Pirates forced Charles Wright to turn the ball over repeatedly while taking good care of the ball on their own end. With this effort and execution, Vashon built a 19-9 first quarter lead and blitzed the Tarriers for a 28-4 second quarter.
With the game firmly under control, Pirate coach Andy Sears cycled in his bench early. He turned it over to them completely midway through the third quarter in this 64-24 Vashon victory.
Pirate Points against Charles Wright were: Wegner 19, Gage 13, Kerns 13, Holert 8, Dan Lofland 4, Weston 4, Christian Hasson 3, Amick, Hamzah Griffin, Jesse Hazzard, Tyler Stoffer, Corey Williamson.
Vashon beats Chimacum
As the score indicated, the outcome of the Pirates’ game against Chimacum on Friday was never in doubt. The winning began in the first quarter with the Pirates up 16-2 at quarter’s end.
At the half the score was 37-5.
From the tip-off it was a full press, double-team transfer to tying up the ball carrier. Chimacum turnovers were abundant, with most resulting in Pirate points.
Some suspect Friday’s game was a warm-up for the anticipated tough game on Tuesday, Jan. 26, against the Pirates’ nemesis, Cascade Christian. The results of that game came too late for publication in this week’s Beachcomber.
To appreciate the intensity and commitment of Coach Andy Sears, one needs to sit close to the Pirate bench. During the first half, with the game well under control, Sears opened the “Pirates Classroom.” He was up and down the bench, pointing out to the reserves what was going well — and not so well — on the floor.
There is no doubt his intensity transfers to the boys once the game is under way.
At the start of the second half, with a few minutes of play from the starting five, Sears turned the game over to the reserves.
The scoring performance for the third quarter was Vashon 15, Chimacum 13, and for the fourth quarter, Vashon 14, Chimacum 14, showing that the reserve bench has grown into a strong force.
Early into the third quarter, and for the remainder of the game, the non-starting players were in full force.
The pressing defense was well executed. With more turnovers coming the Pirates’ way, fans were treated to some great fast breaks and three-point shots. Christian Hasson had his high point game of the year with 10 points. With every member of the team playing, 11 Pirates in the scoring column.
Pirate points against Chimacum were: Gage 14, Hasson 10, Weston 10, Wegner 7, Kerns 6, Matt Amick 4, Holert 4, Dan Lofland 3, Williamson 3, Hamzah Griffin 2, Jesse Hazzard 2.
The next Pirate boys’ home game is against Orting at 5:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, at the Vashon gym. The Pirates play Seattle Christian away on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
— Don Olson, the grandfather of Pirates Gregor Davidheiser and Jeff Rauma, covered the Chimacum game. Charlie Pieterick, the father of Pirate alum Chris Pieterick, covered the Kings and Charles Wright games.