Sports

Vashon girls basketball claims victory on Senior Night and moves on to Tri-Districts

Junior Elisa Wendt, center with ball, and seniors Kelly Costello, 25, and Sophie Nespor, far right, play the last moments of their last home basketball game in the Vashon gym Feb. 16. - Rik Forschmiedt photo
Junior Elisa Wendt, center with ball, and seniors Kelly Costello, 25, and Sophie Nespor, far right, play the last moments of their last home basketball game in the Vashon gym Feb. 16.
— image credit: Rik Forschmiedt photo

Minutes before taking the floor for the last regular season home game on Feb. 16, the Vashon girls basketball team had its sights set squarely on the fact that there was more to be done. The favored Pirates needed a win over the Life Christian High School Eagles to force a playoff game to settle second place in Nisqually League and the right to play in the league title game.

At the beginning of last Tuesday’s Senior Night, seniors Kiki Means, Kelly Costello, Chrissy Swope and Sophie Nespor and junior Elisa Wendt took to the floor on a mission — to secure a low seed in the tri-district state playoff tournament.

The Pirates exploded for 40 first half points, and their relentless defensive efforts held the visiting Eagles to only three, as all 10 Vashon players contributed to a 40-3 halftime lead. After starting the third quarter, Vashon’s departing upperclassmen watched their teammates extend the Pirate lead to 50-6 before taking the court for two minutes midway through the fourth quarter for a final regular season curtain call.

Second half scoring was led by Cat Amick, who dropped six of her eight points after the half. For the game, the Pirates had 31 steals, and unselfish play in transition led to 16 assists. Costello led Vashon with 18 points with support from Wendt (8), Swope (6), Means (6), Charlotte Kehoe (6) and Nespor (4).

With the scoreboard reading 56-8 and the playoff game against Cascade Christian 22 hours later, Vashon’s departing players accepted bouquets of flowers and signed basketballs and specially designed T-shirts. There were even a few tears.

On Feb. 17, the Pirates traveled to a neutral site (Seattle Christian High School) for a rematch with the Cascade Christian Cougars. The Pirates were looking to avenge a regular season loss at Cascade Christian in which all five starters fouled out.

On the Pirates’ first possession, Means opened the scoring with a sizzling three-pointer, but after that Vashon struggled to make short-range jumpers.

The game started slowly for both squads, as the Cougars were stymied by the Vashon full court pressure. A low-scoring first quarter ended with the Pirates down, 5-6.

Vashon retook the lead 14 seconds into the second quarter when Means made two of three after being fouled on a three-point attempt. The Pirates never trailed again, scoring 15 second-quarter points to take a 20-14 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter started with a 9-2 run, which the Pirates rode to 19 points and a 39-20 lead by the end of the period. Costello led the Vashon offensive push, scoring 18 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. Vashon’s height advantage over the smaller Cougars also began to pay dividends as Kehoe (who had been held to one point in the first half) scored eight.

The Pirates never looked back — winning with a final score of 55-26.

Vashon scoring was rounded out by Means (9), Swope (8), Wendt (6) and Amick (2). The Pirates had 23 steals, 12 assists and out-rebounded the Cougars, breaking the tie and earning the right to play the state top-ranked Seattle Christian High School Warriors for the Nisqually League title.

Playing a third game in five days, Vashon traveled to Orting to take on the Warriors.

The Pirates could not buy a bucket in the first quarter. At one point they were down 22-2, and were behind 34-12 at the half.

Fighting back, the Pirates outscored their opponents by three in the third quarter, but the damage inflicted early was insurmountable as Vashon ultimately lost, 65-34. Costello led the Pirates with 18 points; Kehoe added 7 and Means, Nespor and Wendt each contributed 3 in the loss.

“Seattle Christian has a really solid team and three players who are each capable scorers,” said Coach Henry Porter. “We just have to look ahead to the tri-district tournament and the opportunity to earn our way into state.”

The Pirates’ first-round opponent was Bush High School, the number-four seed from the Emerald City League. The game was played on Vashon at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, with results coming too late for publication in this week’s Beachcomber.

Vashon earned the right to host this loser-out game as the number-two seed from District Three. The winner of the Vashon-Bush game will take on the winner of a Lynden Christian-Overlake game at Mountlake Terrace High School at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25.

A tournament bracket can be found at www.wcd3.org/girls_basketball.htm.

— Gary Means is the father of Kiki Means.

 

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