VHS hoops guys win twice

Pirates defeat Seattle Christian (very close) and Chimacum (a blowout).

The Vashon Pirate boys’ basketball team opened Nisqually League play with two wins last week.

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, they battled toe-to-toe with the Seattle Christian Warriors to take a close 55-50 victory. On Friday, Dec. 13, they traveled to Chimacum where they prevailed over the Cowboys in a 68-21 blowout.

The Warriors came to Vashon prepared to do battle with the Pirates.

Seattle Christian is an experienced and deep team. They are always well-prepared by their coach, Roger DeBoer, a master strategist.

His strategy for this game was to double- and triple-team 6’9” sophomore John Gage, the Pirates’ leading scorer, to prevent the Pirates from fully exploiting their size advantage.

With this kind of pressure in the middle, the Pirates adjusted by attacking the basket, drawing Warrior fouls, and converting 13 for 14 of their first-half free-throws.

When the Warriors closed off the attack lanes, the Pirates kicked it back outside the arc to their waiting 3-point snipers.

Juniors Max Burnham, Chris Pieterick and Charlie Hoffman and senior Justin Calhoun all found the long mark.

But just when it appeared the Pirates might be gathering lethal momentum, a Warrior assassin found his own mark at the half-time buzzer to trim the Pirate margin to 33-27.

Both teams came out of the half fired up. They forced each other into turnovers and poor shots. Every rebound was contested. Any off-the-mark pass was deflected or intercepted. Players scrambled on the floor whenever there was a loose ball to chase down.

Late in the quarter, back-to-back highlight reel plays by junior Thomas Timm-Skove nudged the Pirates’ edge to 42-33.

Early in the final quarter, Seattle Christian stepped up their intensity while Vashon stopped attacking the basket.

The Warriors went on a 13-2 run to chisel to within a point with less than two minutes to play. However, Vashon’s lock-down defensive effort and good foul shooting down the stretch secured the final 55-50 victory.

When asked afterward about the game, Coach Andy Sears lauded all the game’s contestants.

“Both sides played their tails off,” Sears said, adding, “This was a good win for us. While we were able to prove to an experienced opponent that we are more than one-dimensional, it also shows that we’re not a finished product.”

At Chimacum, the Pirates preyed on the hapless Cowboys.

Pirate dominance on both ends of the court was underscored midway through the first quarter when Burnham, directing a fast break, offered up a fat alley-oop pass to Timm-Skove for a score.

By the end of the first quarter, with the Pirates already up 24-9, there was little guessing about the eventual outcome of this game.

An often hidden dimension of good teams is a deep bench. Bench players work just as hard as starters for relatively little game time.

But as Sears likes to say, “Steel sharpens steel.” It is the effort of the bench players that tempers the steel of the starting team into a game-ready unit.

The Pirate bench took full advantage of increased playing time against Chimacum, tallying scores while holding the Cowboys to 6 second-half points.

Highlights included a perfect strike by sophomore Quinn Holert to cutter Elias Weston for a lay-in, some solid rebounding and a put-back by junior Michael Stoffer, and excellent team ball-handling and clock management to mercifully expedite the inevitable conclusion.

—Charlie Pieterick is a basketball dad who writes the regular reports of VHS boys basketball games.