by Jefferson Freeman
Orcas High School student
Orcas Vikings’ basketball returned has to center stage.
The boys’ team got out to a strong start on Dec. 2 against 2B Toledo. The Vikings got out to a hot start by point guard Diego Lago who had 16 points in just the first quarter and would finish the night with 21 in total.
The game would be back and forth until the third quarter when the Vikings would outscore Toledo 19-4. A late comeback wouldn’t be enough and the Vikings would hold on for a 71-66 win, giving the Vikings a 1-0 start for the first time in years. Lago and Aidan Murray would be the top scorers with 21 points a piece.
The next day the Vikings would make the trip to Tacoma to face the Sound Christain Lions. The Vikings would be paying without co-leading scorer big man Aidan Murray for the game meaning Freshman Joe Stephens would make his first start. The Vikings were able to keep it close for a while, but back-to-back days of playing and a lack of a 20-point scorer meant that Sound would get the better of them.
I was lucky to hear from both head coach Ed Lago for the boys and Jay Sack for the girls about their outlooks for the season.
Lago was all aboard on this team. He was very direct with the goals for a team loaded with seniors. Winning league, districts and even state are the targets for a Vikings team that is in a prime position to accomplish all three. The reason why? The Vikings lost 0 players who played a full season last year, meaning this is the same team that made state but better. Instead, the Vikings added three new players and have the senior captain Murray fully healthy for the first time. All these factors add levels of maturity and bench depth according to Lago. The returning full five will be led by all-league first-teamer Diego Lago and Murray and expect to take a leap forward on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. This season is a golden opportunity for this group of hard workers to make their mark and go down in Orcas Island history.
Sack, who is no stranger to Viking basketball, is making his debut as the girls coach after previously spending time with the boys. He is sitting in a very similar position to the boys as his team lost only one senior and is returning most of their key players. He was ready and excited for this team that he sees tons of potential within. A team led by Bethany Carter will be primed to challenge for the league, district and state championship as long as they all play team ball and give 110%.
On Dec. 10, the Vikings hosted the Lummi Nation Blackhawks for the only game of the week. This was going to be a real test for both teams as Lummi is always amongst the state’s premier teams.
For the girls, it was also their first game of the season. A game like Lummi was going to be a tall task no matter what and an opening game would be even more difficult. The girls fought hard to stay in it, but eventually, Lummi broke away for the 49-37 win.
For the boys, Lummi finished fifth at state last season and beat the Vikings on three separate occasions. There was no desire to let the season unfold like that again. The Vikings came out strong and put the Blackhawks down early. Lummi would attempt to fight back into the game and they began to look as if they would do just that. But the Vikings held strong and before you knew it Lummi was forced to foul hoping for an extra possession but the Vikings took advantage of their free throws and closed the door by a score of 66-58. Lago led the way on offense with 24 points while Murray grabbed 15 rebounds despite being unable to start due to sickness/injury.
The schedule really heats up in the next couple of weeks as the Vikings play five games from Dec. 13-20, including hosting Friday Harbor at home.