By CHARLIE PIETERICK
The Vashon Pirate boys basketball team lost a 47-44 nail-biter in the West Central District tournament last Saturday.
The Pirates as Nisqually League 1A/2B champs faced the runner-up Seattle Christian Warriors on the Warrior court, and in losing they came away with second seed in the boys Northwest Bi-District tournament which starts today.
The Pirates and the Warrios battled toe-to-toe in the opening minutes of the game.
The Pirates had initial success getting the ball into their post player, John Gage, for scores.
However, a few defensive lapses and costly unforced turnovers in the first quarter allowed the Warriors, on the back of scrappy play, to break away on a 12-4 run.
Pirate Justin Calhoun staunched the hemorrhaging with a quick-release 3- pointer off an inbounds pass to bring the Pirates back to 19-15 by the end of the first quarter.
The Pirates could not gain traction on the Warriors during much of the second quarter, chasing a 5-point margin throughout.
Warrior defenders clogged up the path to the basket, and Pirate assassins couldn’t find the long mark.
Then, with 1:30 remaining, Gage stole the ball in the backcourt and went the distance to throw down a monster one-handed jam. He followed that by stuffing a Warrior shot on the defensive end, getting the Pirates within one point at the half with the score 26-25.
More turnovers in the third quarter and continued poor shooting converted Pirate possessions to dross. When a Warrior assassin nailed a 3 late in the quarter to potentially sink the Pirates, Vashon’s Max Burnham answered with a hanging jump shot to keep the margin at 5 as the quarter ended.
Not giving up, Vashon amped up its defensive intensity in the fourth period.
Staying glued to their SC counterparts, the Pirates forced several SC turnovers, including a steal by Chris Pieterick for two points which brought them within one point midway through the quarter.
The Pirates gained the lead a short time later but could not hold it. Two late 3-pointers by Gage, including a 25-footer from way beyond the top of the arc, kept Vashon close down the stretch in a tough loss.
The Pirates face the Meridian Trojans tonight in a 6 p.m. game at Montlake Terrace High School. This loser-out game is a must win for the Pirates to advance toward the state tournament.
— Charlie Pieterick is a basketball dad.