by Marty Zier
The Lady Vikings have secured a spot in the regional tournament on Feb. 23 or 24 . A win at regionals means competing at the state tournament in Spokane.
The girls lost their first bi-district playoff game 43-40 to the La Conner Braves on Feb. 14. True to form, the Vikings had a quick start, scorching the Braves 19-8 after the first quarter. Solid defense and offense production kept Orcas in dominating control of the game most of the second quarter, but finishing the third and fourth quarter has been an Orcas weakness.
Leading 25-14 with 3:20 left in the second quarter, the Vikings appeared ready to take a healthy lead going into halftime. But with 1:27 left, the Braves took advantage of a pause in Viking focus and narrowed the lead 27-21. By half, the Vikings had regrouped and finished the half up 30-21.
The third quarter was a battle, ending with the Braves down only two points, 35-33. With about six minutes left in the game, the Braves tied the game 36-36 and took a narrow lead after Orcas shooting went awry. Challenged with shooting woes and a few missed free throws, the determined Vikings kept the game close, down 41-40 with 1:02 remaining. But then the refs let their presence known: a highly questionable charging foul against Viking forward Katy Minnis as she was leveled bringing the ball up the court as well as a phantom traveling call against Maia Lewis-Shunk took away two key Viking possessions, essentially determining the outcome.
The Vikings played their second bi-district game against Seattle Lutheran on Feb. 16 in Sedro-Wooley, and won 40-28 against the Saints. Orcas maintained about a 10-point lead for most of the game and went into the third quarter 28-20. Several fouls against Seattle late in the fourth quarter allowed the Vikings to increase their lead even more.
by Justin Paulsen
Special to the Sounder
Vikings boys basketball will move on to the regional tournament on Feb. 23 or 24, marking the second year in a row that Coach Corey Wiscomb and his team have advanced.
The boys entered the bi-district playoffs on Feb. 13 with a chip on their shoulder.
After a difficult overtime loss to close out the regular season, they had to reboot to face the #1 team from down sound: Crosspoint Academy. The Vikings went to the game prepared for a battle, and that is exactly what they got.
The Vikings got out to an early lead, but Crosspoint met them at every step, eventually gaining the lead in the fourth quarter. With Crosspoint up by two points and 14 seconds left in regulation, junior Ciaran O’Neill was fouled, placing him at the line to tie the game. He did just that, pushing the Vikings to their second overtime in as many games.
Crosspoint took the early lead in overtime, led by sharpshooter Jackson Kimmel and held it until, with four seconds left in OT, Vikings senior captain Vanya Bullock tied the game up at 76 apiece.
On the final play of the game, Crosspoint went to their steady hand, getting Kimmel into scoring position for what would be the game-winning shot as time expired, handing the Vikings a loss and sending the Vikings to a do-or-die game on Thursday, Feb. 16.
“Vanya was doing everything he could to will us into a win,” said Wiscomb. “He’s done it before and that confidence from experience is invaluable at this point in the season.”
Bullock had 30 points; Hayden Simpson 18; Yusef Duni 11; Kellen Maier 7; Ciaran O’Neill 4; Garret Ballanger 2; Max Clark-Matilla 2.
Thursday’s game put them against a much more familiar foe: the La Conner Braves. Having already defeated the Braves twice during the regular season, the Vikings entered the game with confidence, but Wiscomb didn’t let the team relax, playing a high intensity game on both ends of the court.
The Vikings got out to an early lead and never let go. Simpson consistently beat out the Braves for rebounds, and the Vikings’ multiple threats and balanced scoring attack left the Braves with more questions than answers. Orcas won 60-52.
“La Conner probably played tougher this game than any other of the season – that’s what the playoffs are all about, with a shot at state on the line,” said Wiscomb. “They surged in the fourth with a last ditch effort, and I give a lot of credit to Garret Ballanger who came in off the bench and dropped an extremely important four points to seal the win. He was another example of all players stepping up to get the team to the next level.”
O’Neill led the Vikings with 17 points, followed by Duni (13), Bullock (12), Simpson (9), Ballanger and Maier (4) and Clark-Matilla (1).
“We have a really great shot to crack the top eight teams in the state,” said Wiscomb. “We’ve been dreaming about making it to Spokane since long before the season began, and it’s fueled our work ethic and drive all along. We’re now one game away from making it there and taking a shot at the state title. I’m so proud of the way these guys have approached making their dreams a reality, it’s an honor to be part of them.”