The girls and boys Viking teams and a ferry full of Orcas fans traveled to Friday Harbor for an evening of basketball against the Wolverines on Jan. 11.
It culminated in a loss for the boys and a howling last minute win for the girls that left the Friday Harbor crowd quiet and stunned.
The Viking boys (4-4) opened the evening in what Coach Rich Madden expected to be a tough game in a Northwest 1A/2B league conference game.
Madden said Friday Harbor (9-6) was the better team, especially since they are a larger 1A school with more games under their belt, but saw potential with the Vikings against the larger and better teams in their league.
“As a team we were too timid and let them box us out underneath most the game which we need to improve, but in the fourth quarter we started to get some rebounds and got some shots underneath,” Madden said.
The Wolverines jumped ahead quickly with sharp perimeter shooting and swift passes into the paint for high percentage scoring. Defensively, Friday Harbor controlled the boards and stonewalled Viking passing to the key. Without consistent outside shooting, Orcas fell behind 42-21 at half.
Foul trouble hindered the Vikings in the third quarter with Rylan Date fouling out while the Wolverines sharpened their bite, outscoring Orcas 27-13 as the Vikings struggled with turnovers and scoring.
The Vikings never gave up, out-scored the Wolverines 15 to 9 in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t enough as the Vikings lost 78-49, but the Vikings finished the game with a strong quarter.
Orcas scoring was led by Jack Gates with 22, Jake Zier 15, Jack Russillo 5, Wayne Foster 4, Rylan Date 2 and Devon Stanzione 1.
However the game of the night was the Viking girls (4-3) against the lady Wolverines (3-9).
The Vikings started confident, leading 17 to 13 with a minute left in the half but a 10-0 Wolverine run in the third quarter had the Vikings down 29-25 with a minute left in the quarter. It looked like this game might slip away from the lady Vikings as the Friday Harbor crowd began to make noise.
With only three minutes left in the game, the Vikings trailed 31-27, but sticky Orcas defense and a key basket gave the Vikings the lead 32-31 with 1:20 in the game.
Forcing a turnover, the Vikings gained possession and the Wolverines fouled Bella Nigretto, who drained both pressure-filled foul shots.
As the boisterous Orcas crowd bellowed “Viking Power” throughout the gym, Coach Gregg Sasan called a timeout with 10 seconds left and told the girls to “stay calm and handle the pressure.”
After the Vikings forced yet another turnover with 3 seconds left, Friday Harbor fouled Alicia Susol who took Sasan’s advice to the hoop, sinking both free throws, ending the game 35-31.
Coach Sasan said after the third quarter, “We got back in the game, we handled their pressure and made our free throws at the end of the game. They did a great job.”
Viking scoring was lead by Bella Nigretto with 16 points, Alicia Susol 8, Hanna Brunner-Gaydos 5, Lana Bronn 4 and Shelbi Rogers 2. Rebounds were led by Brunner-Gaydos with 11, Susol 9, Nigretto and Rogers 6 each and Garcia 5.
Vikings play at Shoreline Christian and Mt. Vernon Christian this week.