Pirates Defeat Meridian Trojans in District Tournament

Feb 20, 2008
by Charlie Pieterick
February 20, 2008 - Alex Wegner drives to the basket against a tough Meridian team in the District Tournament. Vashon won 41-39.
The Vashon Pirates defeated the Meridian Trojans 41-39 in their opening game of the BiDistrict basketball tournament on Wednesday. This keeps their State Tournament dreams alive.  Meridian, was the team which bounced the Pirates out of the tournament last year and went on to place 6th in Yakima.

The Pirates were out of the gates first on a 3 pointer by freshman Alex Wegner, making only his second start of the season.  They followed that up with success in getting the ball to post player John Gage.  Gage hurt the Trojans inside, outside (two from 3 point range) and from the line (perfect 2 for 2) in the first quarter.  The Pirates ran up a 15-8 margin by the quarter break.

The second quarter was all Meridian.  The Pirates were forced to the perimeter by the Meridian defense, but only connected on one of seven three point attempts.  Meanwhile, Meridian penetrated inside Vashon’s man-to-man coverage on the back of Andrei Lintz, a 6’5”, 220# football prospect headed for WSU.  Lintz seemed able to back down any Pirate defender at will to clear a path to the hoop.  He ended up with 15 first half points as his Trojans took a 19-17 half-time lead into the locker room.

The two teams battled closely through 4 lead changes in the 3rd quarter.  Max Burnham took time out from his usual occupation of efficiently running the offense, to drill in two threes.  This was followed with another three by Charlie Hoffman to regain the lead at 27-26.  

Watching Hoffman rises up into shooting form from the corner is a sight to behold.  His ungainly form unfolds into a menacing Phoenix rising from the ashes of an evil empire firing a deadly laser beam through the hoop.  Unfortunately, the Trojans were also able to find the hoop and reclaimed the lead, the 3rd quarter ending 26-29.  

Meridian drilled their second of two 3-point attempts coming out of the quarter break.  This was immediately answered by another Pirate 3 by Burnham.  Meanwhile, the Pirates intensified their defensive effort, meeting Trojan ball handlers at midcourt and sticking to them like glue.  Quickly reacting to the ball, they forced several Meridian turnovers.  With 2:30 left in the game, and Vashon still down by 3, Lintz made one more move to the basket probably thinking he would have his way once again.  But Wegner stood his ground mano-a-mano, drawing the charge and forcing.a key Trojan turnover.  Burnham hit his 5th and final three, tying the game at 37.

On the next Trojan possession, a missed shot resulted in a long Pirate rebound and fast break feed to Chris Pieterick.  Pieterick charged hard down the court and appeared to be tripped by a Meridian defender at the top of the key.  There was no call, but Pieterick had the presence of mind and athleticism to continue a mad scramble for the resulting loose ball.  Ripping it out of a Trojan player’s hands, he ended up with it in a heap on the court.  Before the Trojan defenders were able to converge on him, he managed to find and feed the ball to Burnham who immediately kissed it off the glass for the score.  This gave the Pirates their first lead since Hoffman’s Phoenix-rising shot.  

With time running down, the Trojans took two timeouts to set up successive inbound plays under their own basket.  Both attempts were thwarted by aggressive Pirate defense.  As the final minute ticked down, Meridian was forced to foul.  Gage iced the game in the final seconds with more 2 for 2 freethrow shooting, putting it out of Trojan reach at 41-37.  The Trojans mustered a final uncontested basket for the final 41-39 score.

Pirate Points:  Gage 18 (2 x 3 pointers), Burnham 17 (5 x 3 pointers), Hoffman 3, Wegner 3, Calhoun, Jacobovitch, Kerns, Pieterick.

Meridian Points: Lintz 19, Schweigert 13, Sebens 2, Hayes 2.

The Pirates play number one rated Kings Knights at 6PM Friday, February 22nd in the tournament semi-final.  Win or lose, they will play on Saturday to determine final seeding to the 1A State Basketball Tournament in Yakima.  They must win one of their two remaining BiDistrict games to reach Yakima.