By CHARLIE PIETERICK
The Vashon Pirate boys’ basketball team clinched its fourth consecutive Nisqually League crown by beating the Life Christian Eagles in Tacoma on Friday, 59-38.
Earlier in the week, they set the stage for their coronation by defeating the Cascade Christian Cougars, 56-44. Cascade was the only team to have defeated the Pirates this season.
The first time the Pirates and Cougars squared off, the Cougars plagued the Pirates with their scrappy, physically disruptive defensive style. It was clear from the start of last week’s game that they intended to exploit this style again.
Starting out defensively in a full-court press, the Cougars switched to double and triple teams on Pirate big man John Gage once the ball came into the forecourt.
While forcing several Pirate turnovers, the Cougars’ bad clawing behavior cost them in penalties.
As a result, the Pirates started the second quarter in bonus and finished out the half sinking 10 of 12 free throws.
This kept the Pirates in the game despite turnovers and lack of offensive punch. At the half, a stunned Pirate crowd looked up at a 26-20 Vashon deficit on the scoreboard.
Later, Pirate coach Andy Sears recalled that he was impressed by his Pirates’ maturity at the half. “The boys were absolutely not scared. They asked about what adjustments they needed to make. They couldn’t wait to get back out there and get after it.”
Carrying some momentum from having closed out the first half on a 6-0 run, the Pirates started out the second half on a 14-4 run to take the lead.
On the back of a heroic effort by Thomas “T-Silk” Timm-Skove, who led the attack on the basket, the Pirates collected points and more Cougar fouls. The result was a decisive 56-44 win.
Sears credited his team’s defense with blunting the Cougars’ efforts in the second half. “It was like we had six guys out there at times. We also passed so much better in the second half. That opened up the lanes to the basket for Thomas (Timm-Skove) and others to take advantage of.”
At Life Christian on Friday, the Pirates asserted their dominance early by starting out on a 13-0 run. The Eagles then bounced back to score 8 straight points of their own to end the quarter.
The second quarter was all Pirates, however, as they locked down defensively on the Eagles and pumped in points of their own, including two three-pointers by sharpshooter Matt Kerns.
The half ended, 29-12 for Vashon, and the Pirates were never seriously challenged through the remainder of their 59-38 victory.
Sears was pleased with Friday’s effort. “Coming off a big game like Tuesday’s at Cascade, this was a good win. We took another step tonight … coming in here, to a school that takes a lot of pride in defending their home floor. I thought we played fantastic defense the first half.”
— Charlie Pieterick is a basketball dad.