On to State!
Feb 21, 09


State Champions!

Mar 7, 2009
by Charlie Pieterick
John Gage shoots for 2 of his 20 points versus Kings in the 1-A State Championship game. Averaging 20.5 points and 12 rebounds per game over the 4 games, John was voted Tournament MVP..
The Vashon High School boys Pirates basketball team completed their final team goal of bringing the big gold ball back to the Island from the 1-A State High School Basketball Championships on Saturday.  In a game the local Yakima Herald described as “ of the most dominant championship-game performances in the 52 years of the Class 1-A tournament,” the Pirates rolled to a 49-24 win over the King’s Knights of Shoreline in the SunDome.  John Gage was recognized individually as tournament MVP, while teammate Thomas Timm-Skove brought back tournament second team honors. 

The atmosphere on Saturday was tense but diluted.  Perhaps a little like a fizzy soda in which the ice has melted.  By the 9:00PM Saturday night final, every other team has been eliminated and many participants have already begun the trek home with lesser hardware in hand.  The final two teams were from west of the Cascades, so there was no large contingent of local fans.   Neither school’s band was present.  The Pirate band had left the day before because of budgetary reasons.   And Saturday tournament games are played on the big stage, with the two courts opened up to form one spacious expanse.  The cavernous SunDome can swallow up a large crowd in a hurry. 

Still, the sizeable crowds of partisans on each side of the gym were rocking.   A sea of King’s Knights’ red on one side.   A green, gold, and black Vashon tide on the other.  Vashon had managed to retain and even grow a large contingent of fans who had braved the stormy passes to witness this historic event.  The student section was filled with exuberant representatives of the VHS student body.

The Pirates were decked out in their black and green away-game uniforms, squaring off for the second time this season with the Knights in their whites.  The first meeting was a closely fought 42-35 Pirate victory at the northwest Washington Tri-District tournament a little over a week prior. 

For the final night, an NBA-style event was produced.  The teams were introduced under a weave of spotlights to the sounds of electro-pop synthesized music.  The crowds on both sides were pumped up and primed for the opening tip.

Junior big man John Gage controlled the tip-off to Thomas Timm-Skove who drove in for a quick two points, as he has done many times this season.  Less than 5 clicks had come off the clock.  The Pirate crowd erupted.  King’s answered back with 2 points off an inbound play to tie. Red eruption.  This see-saw of raw emotion and pride would continue through the quarter. 

After a Wegner drive for lay-up, a Max Burnham steal, and a Gage block of tiny King’s point guard Alex Mar’s attempted lay-up, King’s would again knot the score at 4 with 6:07 on the clock.  But from there, Vashon pushed an 8-0 run to take initial command.  During this time, Gage put down a pretty little jump hook in traffic and Timm-Skove drove across the lane and pulled up for a basket.  Gage, drawing a crowd, then found Burnham underneath on the weak side for another.    Suddenly down 12-4, King’s called time-out at 2:04 to regroup.

Out of the time-out, the Knight’s Kevin Clocksin crashed the offensive boards for a putback.  Mar drove under traffic to put up a little dipsy-doodle kiss off the backboard for 2, then followed that up with a steal in the open court which he converted for yet another score.  With the quarter at its end, the Pirates had let King’s quickly shrink the margin to a Pirate 12-10 lead.

The Pirates misfired early in the second quarter.  Gage was called for a baseline charge.  Burnham missed an easy lay-up off a slick pass between defenders from Matt Kerns.  But the Pirates toughened up their defense, regained their composure, and began finding the bottom of the net.  They finished the latter half of the second quarter on an 8-0 run for a 24-15 half-time lead.

It has been characteristic of the Pirate’s four tourney wins to come out strong after the half.  They held Ilwaco scoreless in the third period of game #1.  Lake Roosevelt managed 7 points, but the Pirates were busy putting 21 on the board during that third period.  The potent Bellevue Christian offense only eked out 2 in the third period of game #3. 

Well, to say the Pirates came out strong in the third period of the championship game is an understatement.  They suffocated the Knights in a 14-0 third period display of awesome defense and deft offense.  Burnham missing an early 3, chased down his own rebound along the baseline and laid in 2 points.  Charlie Hoffman took a short pass from Gage midway through the period and put down a monster slam to emphasize Pirate dominance.  Later Gage, despite being seriously hammered, pivoted around in the paint and sunk yet another jumper for 2 more.  Following that score, he charged back on defense and pinned a Knight lay-up against the glass for a block.  When the refs did give Gage the benefit of freethrows for the physical abuse he was taking inside, he was a perfect 8 for 8 from the stripe for the game.

Taking a commanding 38-15 lead into the fourth period, the Pirates did not let up.  The frustrated Knights could only resort to fouling in their attempts to pry the Pirates’ hands off the ball.  This put the Pirates on the line for bonus freethrows throughout much of the final period.  Vashon would shoot a respectable 13 for 18 (72%) of their second half freethrows as they glided to the final victory. 

Pirate Points:  Gage 20, Timm-Skove 13, Burnham 6, Wegner 4, Hoffman 3, Chris Pieterick 3, Odin Jacobovitch, Matt Kerns, Michael Stoffer, Elias Weston. 

The Pirates were greeted by tremendous community support on their return to the island Sunday afternoon.   Congratulatory signs were posted on the Thriftway billboard, in front of the Hardware Store restaurant, as well as in front of several other businesses.  A fire department rig met them at Pandora’s Box parking lot and led a small parade to the main 4-way stop where Chamber of Commerce president, Melinda Sontgerath greeted them and congratulated them on behalf of the community for their accomplishments.