by Jefferson Freeman and Corey Wiscomb
The Vikings guaranteed themselves another playoff matchup after two home wins this past Saturday.
The girls took care of business by thrashing Shoreline Christian with a final score of 72-29. They stayed steady on offense all game long, taking a 40-point lead in the second half. Scoring was led by sophomore Bethany Carter, freshman Ava Ashcraft and eighth-grader Sofia Mahoney-Jauregui. Solid defensive play balanced the Vikings out and was highlighted by a tough press that forced many turnovers from Shoreline. It was definitely the kind of aggressive play that a coach wants to see out of the team as they head into the postseason.
The Orcas girls have now qualified for a spot in the Tri-District tournament. In the meantime, they will continue Tuesday, Feb. 8 with another playoff game that will determine seeding for the tournament. They will head to Marysville to take on number two ranked Grace Academy. If they can make a strong showing at districts then they will further qualify to make the final 16 team cut and head to state to play for the championship.
The boys’ squad headed into Saturday’s matchup with only seven players due to much of the team at home with COVID. They needed everything they could get from those seven as they narrowly escaped a fourth-quarter comeback out of soccer rivals Providence Classical Christian by a score of 59-57. The Vikings did not fold and did not yield to the older Providence team.
Junior Paxton White was not shy about coming out aggressive and helped fire up the team. His rebounding and post play was key to the win. But White would take an early exit due to fouling out, leaving the coaching staff to go deeper to the bench. The lone senior, Odi Salinas Cruz, played one of the best games of his career when his team needed him most. Salinas has always been a dead-eye shooter if left open, and Providence kept leaving him unguarded on the three-point line. In one short stretch of the game, primarily the third quarter, Salinas knocked down five 3-point baskets to grant his team huge momentum.
While only a sophomore, Sam Sutton played like a veteran on the floor. He was the dominant ball-handler and as always a tenacious defender. Sutton’s game kept the defense honest because of his balance between scoring and passing. Sophomore Orion Meskew stepped up big to come in and play a role on the floor for his team with strong defense and rebounding. Sophomore Andrew Garcia saw more minutes in the playoff game than he’d seen in any regular-season game — and he took full use of it. Like a speedster on defense, Garcia led the team in steals, which he then converted into fast break scores. And freshman Remi Lago, who has been a consistent contributor all season long, stayed steady as a scorer, rebounder and defender. Lago just has a way of being involved in so many plays of the game. He’s always around the ball, and he’s a stat-sheet stuffer because he makes plays.
While the boys did hold a nearly 20-point lead at one time, a passionate and driven Providence team mounted a massive comeback all the way to the end of the fourth quarter where Orcas put the final nail in the coffin as the Orcas boys team won the nailbiter by 2 points.