Pirates Or Highlanders

Dec 29, 2008
by Charlie Pieterick
Thomas Timm-Skove charges the basket in traffic.
The Pirates opened the Barlow Trail Classic holiday basketball tournament with a solid 53-40 win over the North Eugene (OR) Highlanders on Monday.  The tournament was played at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham, Oregon.

After a tentative first three minutes, the Pirate offense ignited on a Max Burnham 3 pointer.  They surged to a 14-1 first quarter lead, largely on the wings of a withering defensive effort.  The Highlanders were frustrated in their attempts to go inside by the taller and more athletic Pirates.  And when they tried to go long, Pirate hands in their faces kept them from finding the mark.  

Defensively, the Highlanders double and triple-teamed Pirate big man John Gage down low.  Other Pirate players then stepped up to score. These included Thomas Timm-Skove on a hard drive to the hoop, Charlie Hoffman rising up to sink a short jumper, Chris Pieterick on a kick-out from Gage for 3 points, and Michael Stoffer on an inside dish from Alex Wegner.  Highlander efforts to contain Gage put their defenders into early foul trouble.  

Having asserted their dominance early, the Pirates seemed to lose focus in the second quarter.  Costly Pirate turnovers, missed defensive assignments, and poor shooting allowed the Highlanders to cut the Pirate lead to 22-14 by the half.

North Eugene started out the second half where they left off.  An opening possession 3 pointer ignited an 11-0 run over the first minute-and-a-half.  This gave them their first, and only, lead of the game at 25-22.  During a time out by Vashon coach Andy Sears, the Pirates regrouped.  Sears calmly went over their game plan and needed adjustments.  There appeared to be no sense of panic or anxiety.  Taking their cue from Sears, the Pirate players began executing.  Gage emerged from the time-out, stepping out to sink a 12 foot jumper.  Timm-Skove followed with a spin move to the basket, and then a coast-to-coast lay-in off the fast break that put the Pirates up for good.  By the end of the quarter, the Pirates had regained a 35-31 advantage.  

Pieterick opened the fourth quarter with a 3 coming off a pick.  He drained another catch-and-shoot three later in the quarter for a beyond-the-arc trifecta.  Meanwhile, Vashon picked up the defensive intensity and harried the Highlanders into turnovers and poor shot selection.  While the longer Pirates held down the inside lanes, the perimeter Pirates harassed the ball handlers and pushed them back from the arc.  

Gage wore down his Highlander counterparts over the course of the game, scoring inside and out, blocking or altering several shots, and gathering in a bushel of rebounds.  He finished the game with 20 points.  Burnham kept the Pirate ship on course with his steady point guard hand on the helm while maintaining 6 for 6 perfection from the foul stripe.  Timm-Skove’s explosiveness in transition shredded the Highlanders’ defense.  Pieterick was not only perfect from behind the arc, but disrupted the Highlander offensive rhythm with his defensive tenacity.  
As a team, the Pirates showed considerable poise in this game.  When things appeared to be unraveling, they were able to regroup and get back to their game.  And while they may have fallen into complacency mid-game, they were able to rekindle their customary intensity to blister the Highlanders down the stretch.  In the end, the Pirates’ talent, depth, and desire were too much for this Oregon team to handle.    

Pirate Points:
Gage 20, Burnham 9, Pieterick 9, Timm-Skove 8, Charlie Hoffman 2, Matt Kerns 2, Stoffer 2, Wegner 1, Holert, Jacobovitch, Elias Weston.