By CHARLIE PIETERICK
For The Beachcomber
The Vashon High School Pirate boys basketball team kick off their season at 7 p.m. tonight in a home opener against the Seattle Academy Cardinals at the Vashon High School gym.
Expectations are high for the Pirates. Many people who closely follow 1A basketball place this year’s team at the top of their list of elite 1A teams.
The Pirates bring a head-spinning blend of size, speed, depth and skill to the hardwood unlike any Pirate team in recent memory.
Having lost only one senior from last year’s Nisqually League 1A/2B championship team, this year’s Pirates have the makings to bring the big gold ball home from Yakima next March.
Coach Andy Sears is visibly excited about the possibilities this year’s team presents to him.
“I think it’s safe to say that this is my most talented team ever,” he said. “We’re going to exploit this team’s strength by going more up-tempo with frequent substitutions,” he said of his plans to use the team’s speed and depth this season.
Expect to see more full court pressure defense and running, transition offense.
Junior big-man John Gage said early season practices are reflecting Sears’ strategy.
“We’ve picked up tempo and intensity from last season,” he said.
As a group, the boys have high expectations for themselves.
They have been working hard in the off-season to improve their game.
The team has had success playing in several high-level tournaments against some of the best high school teams in the state.
They have participated in both spring and fall league play against area teams under the supervision of parent Jake Jacobovitch.
Several players — including seniors Thomas Timm-Skove, Max Burnham and Charlie Hoffman, junior Gage and sophomore Alex Wegner — have played with independent Amateur Athletic Union teams to further hone their skills.
Seniors Timm-Skove and Chris Pieterick recently discussed the goals they have set for themselves.
“We feel that anything less than a state title will be a disappointment to us,” Pieterick said.
When asked how the team will make that happen, he added, “We gotta be committed and work hard every day at every practice.”
Timm-Skove noted that this year’s team is benefiting from the experience they gained last year.
“We know more of what we’re trying to do,” he said. “There’s less learning and more improving.”
When asked how it might affect his team to have a large target on their backs as the 1A team to beat, Sears does not shirk.
“That’s good!” he said. “It can be a motivator. Hopefully, we can be ready for it and respond to it.”
Still, he acknowledged that the team’s wealth of talent and commitment aren’t the only factors in the upcoming season.
“There’s a big gap between what we know we are capable of and where we might end up at the end of the year,” he said. “Hopefully, with team chemistry, freedom from injuries and consistent focus on team excellence, we will be able to stand proud at the end.”
To follow this year’s team, go online to www.vashonbasketball.com for schedule, game summaries and other news.
— Charlie Pieterick is the father of senior Chris Pieterick and a regular contributor to The Beachcomber sports page.