by Marty Zier
Supported by a ferry full of enthusiastic Orcas fans, the Vikings basketball teams swept the Wolverines in Friday Harbor in both men’s and women’s varsity games on Jan. 3. The Lady Vikings pulled out a 45-38 win while the boys battled a close contest at 65-61.
Friday Harbor dubbed it the Island/Spirit Cup after the regular football Island Cup in September was canceled due to a low number of Orcas players.
The Vikings started their week with a commanding non-league win against Coupeville, 80-50, on Dec. 30.
“We knew Coupeville would play a very fast paced game and try and run us, but we were fine with that,” said Coach Corey Wiscomb. “Our teams have a long history. They play a lot of AA schools in order to get quick, but after graduating 11 seniors last year, they are rebuilding. The key to our success in the game was rebounding. We owned the boards.”
Miles Harlow and Vanya Bullock brought down 12 rebounds apiece. Brother Murphy and Cyrus Amour hauled in 9 each. Bullock led all scorers with 20 points with Amour with 19, Harlow 12, Murphy 9, Grayson White 8, Michael Chesher 5, Aidan Kruse 5 and Hayden Simpson 2.
But the pinnacle win of the week was on the Friday Harbor court.
“Take two arch rival teams since before I was even born, stack them each with solid athletes and programs and then watch them play head-to-head for the top dog position in an electric down to the wire basketball game,” said Wiscomb. “What else could you ask for? It was a grind your teeth game from the beginning. Harlow and Kruse really got us started offensively in the first quarter while the whole team held to firm defense. Aidan really wasn’t feeling well, but got three big buckets early. Harlow hit a big three-point basket on the opening possession. Orcas finished the first quarter with a 16 to 9 lead. For us to hold a strong team like Friday Harbor to 9 points in a quarter is really something.”
Despite the cheering Orcas fans filling half the gym, the Wolverines regrouped and took the lead in the second quarter by putting up 22 points.
“We broke down slightly in the second quarter, and perhaps in the past that would have been the end,” said Wiscomb. “That’s the past though. From diving on loose balls to crashing the boards harder and harder as the clock ticked on, Orcas simply found a way to beat them in both the third and fourth periods of play. Amour and Bullock stepped up huge, scoring 28 points between them in the second half alone.”
With Friday Harbor behind and fouling their only hope, the game ended with Bullock on the foul line sinking two free throws to put the score out of reach. Scoring breakdown was Bullock 28, Harlow 12, Amour 11, Kruse 6, Murphy 4, Randolph 2 and Yusuf Duni 2.
The Vikings easily beat Shoreline Christian for a league win 74-38 on Jan. 6. As one of the smaller schools in the league, Wiscomb used it as an opportunity to develop skills while exercising constraint.
“I know that we could have done more damage if we had used our press, but our margin of victory was enough,” he said. “Duni and Simpson each stepped up big from the bench and had 11 points each. Chesher contributed a solid 6 points while Jordan Randolph ran the offense and set the pace of the game while scoring 4. Murphy and White each dropped 3 points.”
Orcas leads the league at 4-0 with a 7-1 overall record. Friday Harbor and La Conner are both 3-1 in league with Mt. Vernon Christian at 3-2. Orcas.
The Vikings will travel to Mt. Vernon Christian and then play two home games: Thursday, Jan. 12 against Darrington at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 14 against Concrete at 3:30 p.m.
The Lady Vikings started their stretch of games on Dec. 28 with a road trip to the Olympic Peninsula, resulting in a non-league win at Clallam Bay, 54-53. Coach Gregg Sasan was pleased how his team fought a close game and attributed the win to shooting 73 percent at the free-throw line.
On Dec. 30, the Vikings lost a nail-bitter to Coupeville at home 42-41 in a non-league game. Orcas held the advantage most of the game but fell flat on points at the end of the fourth quarter.
“I knew it would be an aggressive game, they are a really good team,” said Sasan. “We are still learning patience toward the end of the game but our rebounding was much better by Bethany Hansen, Jessie Nichols and Sandy Rost, which was big.”
The game of the week was a dominating league win in Friday Harbor. Coach Sasan prepared his team with some history.
“We talked about the rivalry,” he said. “Two of my coaches, Amber Minnis and Sada Ashcraft, played in this rivalry, and they talked to the girls about how special it is and how they are now a part of this. It was great to see the girls pick up on the importance of this game. This will always be remembered. Katy Minnis led with 18 points – that was huge for us. We switched our team defense and that really messed with Friday Harbor. We still had to deal with their press, they are quick and we had to keep the ball from getting inside to their dominate player, who typically scores a lot. We held her to 4 points. This was a fun win. Hansen had 11 points, Maia Lewis-Shunk and Nichols had 4 each, Journey Howden and Rost both had 3 and Birdie Greening had 2. I was really surprised how many Orcas fans were here and the girls picked up on all that support. When we play them again it will be tough.”
The Vikings beat Shoreline Christian 43-16 on Jan. 6 for a league win.
“I did a lot of substituting and the older girls really helped some of the JV girls I brought up,” said Sasan. “It was a good team effort. We have worked hard on our hustle and it showed in this game.”
Hansen led with 12 points followed by Rost with 11, Minnis 7, Lewis-Shunk 6, Greening 4, and Nichols 3.
The Lady Vikings are 8-2 overall and 3-1 in league with La Conner on top at 4-0 followed by Mt Vernon Christian at 4-1. The Ladies face Mt. Vernon Christian at an away game and play two home games: Thursday, Jan. 12 against Darrington at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 14 against Concrete at 5 p.m.