by Marty Zier
The Lady Vikings opened their season at home with a non-league win, 38 to 23, against the Blazers of Bush Academy from Seattle on Dec. 1.
The vastly improved Blazers initially surprised the Vikings with solid defense and ball control with the evenly matched teams trading baskets and going into halftime tied 15-15. Head Coach Gregg Sasan used his deep bench of fresh players to keep the defensive pressure and fast-paced momentum on the Blazers, which began to take effect in the third quarter as the Vikings began to pull away.
“Both teams came out fairly composed but I could see the intensity of the game start to affect Bush,” said Sasan. “The defensive pressure from Maia Lewis-Shunk and Katy Minnis caused their forwards turnovers and our players became more comfortable as the game went on. We got some good rebounding by Jessie Nichols, Olivia Brunner-Gaydos and Journey Howden, which helped keep the ball in our control more of the second half. But we’ll face a better team for our first regular season game against La Conner, so we have work to do. We need to work on the basics: good passing, ball control and making more shots.”
The Lady Vikings play the La Conner Braves at home on Dec. 12 for a league game. They then play Concrete on Friday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. at home.
The boys’ Viking team began its season with three non-league games to test the newest iteration of Vikings. Orcas dropped their home opener on Dec. 1 to the 1A Bush Academy Blazers 54-48 with scoring led by Vanya Bullock with 26, Hayden Simpson 15, Yusuf Duni 4, Kellen Maier 3 and Ciaran O’Neill 2.
Coach Corey Wiscomb didn’t waste any time and sent the Vikings to Mt. Baker High School the next day, with the underdogs from Orcas losing a close contest, 65-60.
“They had a massive lineup, including a 6-foot-10-inch and 6-foot-8-inch front line and no one under 6 feet 2 inches, starting,” said Wiscomb. “That’s as big as we’re going to face this year and Yusuf Duni outplayed their two giants put together. He scored only one less point than their two big men combined and out-rebounded the two of them put together. We took them off-guard and came out strong to take a lead after the first quarter, up five at the half, tied at the end of the third, but down five at the end. Scoring was led by Bullock with 23 points, Duni, 14, Simpson, 11, Max Clark-Mattila, 8, Maier, 4. Mt. Baker looked at us like chumps when we arrived, but we walked out with their full respect. I’m proud of our guys; they have heart and skills.”
The Vikings ended their preseason with a 90-52 loss against Lakewood.
“Lakewood was the biggest school we’ve played yet. They were big, strong, fast and deep on the bench and it proved to be too much for us. I’m not sorry we played them though,” said Wiscomb. “They exposed a couple areas that we really need to solidify offensively and defensively, and we can now be clear in our understanding of the high level that we are trying to reach ourselves.”
The three non-league losses may not be far off Wiscomb’s script.
“We’re 0-3 right now, but the only opponents we’ve faced are considerably larger non-league schools. We were competitive in two of the games. We are currently averaging the highest offensive output of any team in the league against tougher opponents. Now our work is to maintain that standard against the teams in our league. If we do that, then we will be doing very, very well. “
The Vikings play the first league game of the year at home against the La Conner Braves on Dec. 12. They then another home game against Concrete on Friday, Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m.