On to State!
Feb 21, 09


Pirates Loot Vikings in State Semi-Final

Mar 6, 2009
by Charlie Pieterick
John Gage rose above the Bellevue Christian defenders for 30 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots.
The Vashon High School Pirate boys’ basketball team defeated a gritty Bellevue Christian (BCS) Vikings team in the semi-final championship game of the 1-A state basketball tournament on Friday.  Despite a 1-A tournament game record, thirteen 3-point goals by Viking sharp shooters, the Pirates dominated every other aspect of the contest to take the 66-53 win.

The atmosphere was fully charged as the Pirates took the floor for their 8:00 PM game against Bellevue Christian.  The Viking girls had just won their semi-final loser bracket game and a sizeable blue-clad BCS contingent shifted to the boys’ side of the gym.  The Pirate Nation was also out in full.  Additional reinforcements had arrived overnight to join an already sizeable representation, including the VHS Pirate band.

Both sides of the gym were standing in eager and nervous anticipation as the opening tip-off approached.  John Gage controlled it to Thomas Timm-Skove who found Alex Wegner underneath for the first score, a bare 3 seconds into the game.  The Pirates used this as a spring-board for an 8-0 opening run.   Wegner drove for another 2.  Gage laid down a slam in transition, then spun to sink a 10 footer with his floating soft-touch release.  Meanwhile, the usual Pirate lock-down defense denied BCS open paths to the basket.  Particular attention was paid to the Viking’s junior guard, David Downs, the 18 points-per-game BCS star.  Son of Viking coach, Michael Downs, David is a smooth ball handler with a silky delivery, whether driving the lane for a reverse layin, spotting up for a downtown 3, or pulling up to float a 10 foot teardrop.  With the junior Downs contained and his Vikings falling behind, Coach Downs called a time-out to stop the hemorrhage with 5:26 remaining in the first quarter.

Coming out of the time-out, BCS got on the board with a 3-pointer at the 4:10 mark.  But the Pirates were unfazed, going on another 9-0 run on a Timm-Skove put-back, a steal by Gage that was delivered back to him for 2, a Wegner 2 off a feed in the lane from Max Burnham driving baseline and an uncontested Chris Pieterick 3-pointer.  

The Vikings meanwhile, unable to penetrate the Pirate middle, attempted several threes without success.  They finally connected on a pair of them late in the period.  This helped trim the score to a slightly more respectable 21-11 Viking quarter-ending deficit.  The BCS faithful sat in stunned silence at the awesome display of Pirate Power as they sat through the quarter break

It would be interesting to know what Coach Downs said to refocus his boys in the team huddle. Was it possibly one of those John Wooden inspirational quotes that have transformed generations of players?  Whatever it was, BCS came out of the quarter with a renewed energy and effort.  Each team forced the other into tit-for-tat turnovers.  Downs, bottled up by the Pirate defense, demonstrated his ability to get the ball into the hands of open teammates on brilliant assists.  They responded by putting down 5 consecutive 3’s as the quarter wore on.  This uncanny Viking sharp shooting got their team back within 3 points of the Pirates at 29-26.   The Pirates closed the half by running the clock down and driving Timm-Skove down the lane to lay it up and in.  The Pirates had wedged the margin back to 33-26.

Out of the half, the Pirates used their size and speed to extend their defense, pushing BCS back from the 3-point line.  Meanwhile, they continued to pound the ball into Gage and drive to the basket with success.  The resulting 14-2 third quarter re-established Pirate dominance in the game and gave them a 47-28 lead by the end of the third quarter.  

Vashon continued to hustle and fight.  Early in the fourth quarter, Timm-Skove dove to the floor for a loose ball, then called a time out to retain Pirate possession.  During that timeout, a clearly frustrated David Downs threw his fists to his sides in a fit of pique.  Viking attempts to stop the Pirates’ inside attack resulted in fouls, sending Pirates to the line early in the fourth quarter.  Forced to foul late in the game, the Vikings continued to put the Pirates on the line.  Vashon made the most of it, sinking an excellent 23 of 27 (85%) from the charity stripe.  

As the game drew down, the Pirate side of the gym rose to their feet in a salute to the team and what they have accomplished.  Overcoming last season’s disappointing state showing, these same Pirates committed themselves to returning to Yakima to finish the job of bringing a state basketball title back to the Island.  Their dreams have been nearly realized…  minus one final Pirate victory.  

Pirate Points:  Gage 30, Wegner 15, Timm-Skove 10, Pieterick 8, Burnham 3.  

BCS was 13/32 (41%) from 3-point range and shot 20/52 (39%) overall.  The Pirates were 1 of 3 from 3-point range and shot 21/36 (58%) overall.    

Coach Andy Sears, when asked about the game cited the “great start” his Pirates had.  “Holy smokes!  We were firing on all cylinders.”  He also applauded his boys’ poise as they withstood the Viking 3-point assault.  “I was just happy that we were mentally tough.  We didn’t fold the tent.  We just kept fightin’ and fightin’ and fightin’.”

He praised the Pirate effort at keeping David Downs under control.  He went out of his way to praise the efforts of Timm-Skove who drew the defensive assignment on Downs.   “Thomas did a great job,” he observed.  “As good a job as John had offensively today, Thomas was just as good defensively.”

When asked how he strategically countered the Vikings 3-point assault he added, “David Downs is really good.  We were putting a lot of emphasis on defending him (in the first half).”  He adds that during the half-time break, the team talked about how “we wanted to refine our angles and how we were going to defend him.”  He commends the adjustments his Pirates made in the second half to accomplish that goal, “We dialed in some of the little things we talked about at half time.  The boys did an excellent job executing. We were really guarding in the third period.”

Addressing the boys progress during the tournament as the prepare for the championship final on Friday, Coach Sears observes, “They (are getting) more experience on the floor, more comfortable in the environment.   They’re ready to go.  It’s what they’ve been dreaming about.”

Preparing to spend a long day Saturday prior to the 9:00 PM game time, he says, “We’ll try to break it up.  Do what we usually do.  We’ll talk to teams that have been there before (about how they managed the time).  We’ll do a walk through.  We did a good job today.. visiting the elementary school. (The boys) are ready to go.  They’re excited!

The Pirate boys will take the center court at the Yakima SunDome on Saturday night at 9:00 PM to face the King’s Knights of Shoreline for the 1-A title match.   The Pirates beat King’s in a closely fought battle at the TriDistrict tournament in February.  King’s has also impressed and improved in the course of this tournament.  Look for another closely fought and physical battle against two teams who like to push the ball and ferociously guard their end of the court.

Go Pirates!