by Marty Zier
The boys Viking team had their second season match against league leader Friday Harbor on Jan. 30 and lost 50-55.
After a respectable loss to the Wolverines a few weeks ago on San Juan Island, the Vikings hit the court in front of the packed the Orcas gym bellowing with partisan fans from both islands.
“I think Friday Harbor realized immediately (that) it was going to be a different game now that our post, Yusuf Duni, was playing,” said head coach Corey Wiscomb.
“Yusuf dominantly scored 8 points in the first quarter against their massive lineup, but then fell into foul trouble in the middle of the second quarter,” he said. “We had to take him out and he just couldn’t quite get back into that strong rhythm he started in, but he still played well. We were really glad to have him. I actually think Hayden Simpson played the best I’ve seen in his whole career. Not only did he score 22, he was taking charges on defense away from the ball, which reflects great footwork and a high basketball IQ. He also had 12 rebounds in the game and finished with a strong double-double. Hayden was an absolute ‘stat-sheet-stuffer.’”
Wiscomb said although the Vikings didn’t win, it was an incredible game.
“That was small-town sports at its absolute best, hands down,” he said. “Having our town out and making a raucous amount of glorious noise like that was awe inspiring. I know everyone in that building felt the heart that our team plays with, and they were giving it right back to try and lift us. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t want to play Friday Harbor again. We’re hoping for one more head to head this year.”
Orcas scoring was Simpson 22; Vanya Bullock 15; Duni 8; and Max Clark-Mattila 5.
The Vikings finish the regular season (7-3) behind Friday Harbor at (9-1) but leading La Conner (5-5), Mt. Vernon Christian (4-6), Concrete (3-7) and Darrington (2-8). Both the Vikings and Wolverines have qualified for the District Playoffs, and if each team does well, there is a chance that they could meet again one more time in Sedro-Woolley on Feb. 15 for the Bi-district Tournament Championship game.
The Lady Vikings lost their final regular season game 42-40 in a highly anticipated overtime rematch against the Friday Harbor Wolverines on Jan. 30.
The rivalry and gravity of the game were apparent prior to tip-off as the Orcas High School gym decibel level elevated as fans of both teams anxiously filled in to capacity. Coach Gregg Sasan knew it would be a close game.
“We are very evenly matched teams, so we knew it would be a good, close game,” he said. “The stunned Vikings lost the previous game in Friday Harbor as the last second ticked off the clock.”
Finishing the first quarter tied 6-6 and going into half up 18-17, the Vikings offense and defense met expectations, but Sasan knew missed free throws in the first half by the Vikings could sting later in the game. The Vikings played a strong third quarter and advanced to one of their largest leads, entering the fourth quarter up 22-17, but continued to bounce shots off the free throw rim and send Wolverines to the free throw line. However, with 5:18 left in the game, the Wolverines showed their fourth quarter perseverance and tied the game at 26-26.
After a second by second struggle for the remainder of the contest, both teams fought to a 34-34 tie and headed to overtime. With seconds left tied at 40-40, the Vikings committed an untimely foul and had an in-bounds pass stolen for 2 points, allowing the Wolverines to finish atop again with time running out.
“Friday Harbor played better this game,” Sasan said. “They shot better and hit their free throws. I told my players in a close game it comes down to making our free throws. We missed eight in the first half and six in the second half. We unraveled a bit at the end and missed some easy lay-ins, but we only hit 50 percent of free throws. It comes down to that.”
Orcas scoring was Maia Lewis-Shunk 15; Katy Minnis 13; Birdie Greening 4; and Journey Howden, Jessie Nichols, Olivia Brunner-Gaydos and Portia White with 2 each.
The Lady Vikings finish their season at 5-5 trailing La Conner at 9-1, Mt. Vernon Christian (8-2) and Friday Harbor (6-4) but ahead of Darrington (2-8) and Concrete (0-10). Although team and location are still to be determined, the Vikings will either play Seattle Lutheran or Auburn Adventist in the Bi-districts on Feb. 10.