In the first five possessions for each team, there were no baskets scored. Cascade Christian appeared to be nervous at home in a game that could elevate them to the second seed in the district playoff season. But that outcome was not going to happen this night, Jan. 28, as the Vashon Pirates put themselves back on top of the Nisqually League with a 57-27 win.
After four minutes, Cougar senior Nathan Larsen worked the right side very hard against Colin Pottinger, but when he went up for the shot, Edgar Hernandez-Torres helped to block his attempt. Jeremiah Bogaard got the loose ball, raced down the court and made a quick 2 points. Larsen had made no move to assist his team on defense, so that left him alone under his own basket. Cougar center Parker Johnson threw a long pass to him, and he easily put it in to tie the game at 2 points each. Tommy Delargy rebounded a shot attempt from deep by Pottinger and wheeled around to the left corner, took aim and buried the very long 3-point shot to put the Pirates in the lead, where they would stay. Moments later, Kalen Cunningham stole a Cougar inbound pass, sped down the court and scored.
Cascade Christian could not keep possession of the ball, as the Vashon full court press exposed Cougar inexperience at the guard position. Bogaard made a quick layup from a stolen pass, but Cougar Derek Sando hit a long 3, and the period ended with Vashon leading 9-5.
Neither team looked very comfortable on offense. VHS was able to move the ball around effectively, but their contested shots did not fall. On the other end of the floor, Cascade Christian continued to look unsettled. Larsen, averaging 20.6 points per game, scored on a driving layup from the left side early in the second quarter. Delargy answered with a long 3 from 20 feet. Bogaard scored on a fast break after a stolen pass, to notch the VHS lead at 14-9.
Larsen rebounded his own missed shot and put it back in the basket for 2, but Pottinger drove the left side for 2 points to answer. Sol Dehnert banked in a shot from 2 feet, and Pottinger broke inside, took an alley-oop pass and scored for a 20-11 halftime lead.
The third period saw Johnson hit four free throws, and Larsen make a layup to close the Vashon lead to 3 points. Jacob Chavez calmly hit three free throws to counter the CC run.
With five minutes remaining in the third period, Vashon cranked up the scoring. Bogaard knocked down a 3 from 21 feet, and on the next possession hit on a sky hook for another 2 points. One minute later, Delargy stepped beyond the 3-point line on the right side, and his shot hit nothing but net and widened the lead to 31-17. The Cougar crowd had quieted, as their team could not mount any offensive traction against the taller Pirates.
Cunningham brought the ball up the court, and while the defense relaxed, he sprinted by and lunged to convert a running layup for 2 more points. The long arms of Larsen got two baskets quickly, but Pottinger assisted Isaac Patchen as he hit from 4 feet. With 10 seconds left in the third period, Cunningham again quickly bolted by the defense for a layup to put VHS up 37-21.
The Pirates were using, to full advantage, not only their height, but also their quickness. The Cougars had Larsen and Johnson, but they were forcing their shots and creating turnovers. VHS looked comfortable offensively and could easily get the ball inside. Early in the fourth quarter, Pottinger stretched out the defense by being on the perimeter, Patchen cut to an open area in the paint, Pottinger passed to him, and he scored. Johnson missed on the other end, and Dehnert scored on a Patchen pass as he cut to the basket. Hernandez-Torres scored on another assist from Pottinger for a 43-23 lead.
Delargy jumped into the paint and hit a jumper, but Johnson converted at the other end. The 45-25 lead was clearly insurmountable, and you could see the ease with which the Pirates played, and the urgency on the part of the Cougars. VHS spread out wide, moved the ball around, and at the three-minute mark, Chavez buried another 3-point shot.
Larsen missed two free throws; his frustration was very evident. Patchen easily scored on an assist by Bogaard. On the trip down the court, Johnson threw a bad pass that was intercepted by Chavez from a tip by Bogaard. The Cougars had nothing on offense. VHS passed the ball around the widened perimeter until Delargy hit from 20 feet for another 3. Sophomore Luca Aprile scored off of a put-back of his own shot, and Cunningham made a driving layup to end the VHS scoring, and the game, with a 57-27 win.
Delargy had 14 points, Bogaard 11 and Cunningham 8 in scoring for the Pirates. Larsen was high for the Cougars with 16 points.
Tuesday, too late for the Beachcomber to report, VHS played their last league game against the Charles Wright Academy Tarriers. Vashon will be either a first or second seed in the West Central district 1A tournament. Their overall record is currently 14-5.
— Daniel Briggs is the parent of a former VHS basketball player.