Basketball: Vashon and Cascade Christian boys share Nisqually League title

Hamzah Griffin powers the ball up through Life Christian defenders. - Bill Gage photo
Hamzah Griffin powers the ball up through Life Christian defenders.
— image credit: Bill Gage photo


For The Beachcomber

The Pirates beat the Life Christian Eagles at their last home game Feb. 16 but fell to the Cascade Christian Cougars in their first playoff game Feb. 20. Though the Pirates lost Saturday’s game, Vashon and Cascade Christian are 2010 Nisqually League co-champions — Vashon’s sixth consecutive league title.

The Pirates now have a critical playoff game at 7 p.m. tonight at the Vashon High School gym.

Pirates 87, Eagles 52

It was the last game of the regular season, and the Pirates put on a real show.

Life Christian is a good team with good athletes, but they met up with some very high-spirited, energized Pirate seniors playing their last home game.

It was over almost as soon as it began.

The game was loaded with notable season firsts — the first time the Pirates posted a 67 percent three-point shooting average (the season average is 30 percent), the first time they put 50 points up in a half and the highest-scoring game of the season to date.

At game’s end, seniors Quinn Holert, Elias Weston, Matt Kerns, Christian Hasson, Matt Amick, John Gage and Corey Williamson and their parents were honored for their years of dedication to Pirate basketball.

Early in the first quarter, fans knew something special was about to unfold when Gage displayed a new fake and spin move to the basket for two points. With a week’s rest since the Pirates’ last game, the defense was in overdrive.

At the end of the first quarter, the Pirates had a commanding lead of Vashon 23, Life Christian 11.

Then, the real show began. With the Life Christian Eagles playing a sagging defense on Gage, the three-point shooting spree began. Weston got it started with the first three-pointer, followed by Holert showing his stuff.

But the Pirate faithful hadn’t seen anything until 4:44 in the second quarter, when Kerns put on the best show yet. He drained five of six shots from outside the arc. Kerns had 16 points at the half.

By the half, the Pirates had scored 30 of their 50 points with three-point shooting.

Junior Alex Wegner stepped up and showed that seniors are not the only ones who can sink shots. He threw in a three and, at the buzzer, added two. Wegner was the high scorer for the Pirates.

At the half it was Vashon 55, Life Christian 19, for a margin of 36. This is the momentum-building, confidence-subscribing, total-team contribution that must please Coach Andy Sears as the Pirates prepared to enter the playoffs.

The second half found the Pirates and Eagles trading points. At game’s end the halftime margin of 36 points had been eroded by one to a margin of 35. At the buzzer it was Vashon 87, Life Christian 52.

The Vashon starters rested in the third quarter, and the bench saw most of the playing time in the fourth. Sears played every member of the team except one. It was Corey Williamson’s last home game, but he was unable to play because he had a broken nose.

Pirate points for the game were Wegner 21, Gage 19, Kerns 16, Holert 8, Weston 8, Griffin 6, Lofland 5, Hasson 2, Hazzard 2, Amick, Stoffer.

Cougars 64, Pirates 53

The Orting gymnasium was full Saturday evening as two of the top five teams in the state faced off in the sub-district tournament. The winner would be guaranteed a spot in the state tournament in Yakima while the loser would have to fight for that honor in the tri-district tournament.

Cascade Christian jumped to an early lead, hitting three-pointers and repeatedly stealing the ball from the Pirates for easy transition baskets for a 22-4 Cougar lead. Sears called a time-out to try calm his team down, and the Pirates finished the quarter with a 7-0 run. Keys to the rally were a three-point play by Gage and a Tyler Stoffer lay-in off a Pirate steal. The second quarter was a back-and-forth affair, with Wegner hitting a big three-point shot, a steal by Weston resulting in a lay-up by Kerns and Gage hitting numerous free throws.

When Gage got his third foul with a minute left in the half, Williamson came in for his first action since breaking his nose and got two big rebounds. Making 14 of 16 first half free throws kept the Pirates in the game with a halftime score of 35-27, with Cascade Christian leading.

Vashon came out firing in the third quarter, with Wegner making his second three-point shot and Holert converting an offensive rebound into a bucket.

When Gage hit a baseline jumper, Vashon was within one point. But the Cougars made a run of their own and held the lead at 50-41 when the quarter ended.

Vashon could not regain momentum in the fourth quarter despite a big steal and six points in the quarter by Holert and two backdoor lay-ins by Dan Lofland on assists from Gage. But Wegner was called for his fifth foul and had to sit out most of the quarter. Amick played well in the game, collecting six rebounds.

In the end, Cascade Christian won 64-53.

Pirate points for the game were Gage 14, Wegner 14, Holert 10, Kerns 5, Weston 4, Lofland 4, Stoffer 2.

Vashon plays a pivotal playoff game against Seattle Academy on the Island at 7 p.m. today, Feb. 24.

— Don Olson, who covered the Life Christian game, is the grandfather of Gregor Davidheiser and Jeff Rauma. Jay Williamson, who reported on the Cascade Christian game, is the father of Pirate Corey Williamson.

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