By CHARLIE PIETERICK
The Vashon High School (VHS) Pirate boys basketball team opened its season with two wins over non-conference opponents last week.
They defeated the Fife Trojans, 52-40 at home on Wednesday, Nov. 28, and they brought the blizzard to Sultan in defeating the Turks of Sultan High, 73-52, on Saturday, Dec. 1.
For the home opener against Fife, a festive and expectant atmosphere was aided by the presence of the VHS band, under directorship of music teacher Mike Scott. The Pirate basketball faithful turned out in good numbers to see what this promising but inexperienced group of Pirate boys would do as a team so early in the season.
Following Coach Andy Sears’ advice to “Play hard and play smart for the first three minutes,” the Pirates exploded onto the court with intense defensive pressure and crisp offensive ball movement.
Working inside and out, the new Pirates debuted 6’9” post player John Gage (a sophomore who led all scorers with 15), then counter-punched with slashing drives and long threes.
Justin Calhoun showed calm leadership as the sole senior on this year’s team. He burned the Trojans with a steal and three 3-point bombs in the first quarter, including an end-of-quarter buzzer-beater to stake the Pirates to a 15-8 lead. They never trailed the remainder of the game.
Pirate Points: Gage 15, Calhoun 9, Max Burnham 7, Matt Kerns 6, Chris Pieterick 5, Thomas Timm-Skove 4, Charlie Hoffman 2, Odin Jacobovitch 2, Michael Stoffer 2, Quinn Holert, Elias Weston.
On Saturday night, while a snow blizzard raged outside the gym, the Pirates unleashed a blizzard of their own inside the Sultan High School gym. Behind a total of seven 3-pointers (by six different Pirates) and suffocating defense, Vashon kept the Turks back on their heels the entire game.
Coach Sears, substituting early and often, kept his team’s legs rested and fresh to maintain the withering assault.
Jumping out to a 22-14 first quarter lead with the help of two treys by sophomore Matt Kerns, the Pirates never let up. Even when the tenacious Turks got within 11 on a third quarter buzzer-beater, the Pirates did not waver. Rather, they resumed the fourth quarter on an 11-2 run.
Game highlights included junior Max Burnham’s perfect 9 for 9 from the stripe and domination of the boards by the twin towers of Gage and 6’7” junior Charlie Hoffman.
Pirate Points: Burnham 16, Gage 13, Calhoun 11, Hoffman 10, Kerns 8, Timm-Skove 6, Pieterick 4, Weston 4, Stoffer 1, Holert.
When asked to reflect on the season’s start, junior Thomas Timm-Skove stated, “We’re a whole new team (from last year’s). We’re young. We’ve got a lot of depth, a lot of talent, and good teamwork.”
He sees these early games as important in helping team members find their respective roles on the team.
Under Coach Sears’ helm, this young, talented and dedicated Pirate team is in the midst of a successful shakedown cruise and nearly ready to make a run at Nisqually League foes.
The Pirates played their third, and final, pre-conference game against the Foster Bulldogs last night (too late to go to press), and open league play at home against the Seattle Christian Warriors at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11.
— Charlie Pieterick is a basketball dad.