by Jefferson Freeman
Orcas High School student
Playoff sports are back. And again the Orcas Island Vikings find themselves right in the thick of things.
Both the girls and boys teams had three playoff matchups this past week. Tuesday’s matchups saw the boys traveling to Lummi where a team still shorthanded to COVID battled hard but ended up falling short in a 79-39 defeat.
While the boys headed north to Lummi the girls went the other direction, traveling south to face Grace Academy in Marysville. The girls stayed neck and neck with one of the top-ranked teams in the state all the way to the final whistle. Grace seemed to have a win in their sights as they had a two-point lead with just 32 seconds left on the clock until Bethany Carter got an opportunity for three free throws, which she used to turn a 36-34 deficit into a 37-36 lead. The final score was 38-36 as the Vikings advanced to the district championship.
Thursday would be the end of the COVID absences for the boys as they took on Grace Academy. Following the girls’ lead the boys were able to control the matchup behind performances from Diego Lago and Aidan Murray with a score ending up 55-48.
The girls’ district championship matchup pitted them against top-ranked Mount Vernon Christian and the Hurricanes proved their ranking. A tough fight saw the Vikings fall short by a score of 62-30.
After tri-district rankings gave both the boys and the girls the seventh seed and a home game on Saturday. The girls played host to the Crosspoint Warriors and made a statement on why they deserved a higher seed. A 53-20 victory got that point across as the Vikings dominated their way into the second round. Senior Tayla Malo was a force on both sides of the ball being one of the Vikings’ top scorers and defenders. Bethany Carter was among the best players on the floor per usual, scoring and rebounding the ball well. Ava Ashcraft, Shaye Spinner and Lili Malo made their presence felt on the defensive end of the floor as they helped keep Crosspoint to 20 points.
Coach Gregg Sasan had some positive words on the game and was looking forward to Neah Bay on Tuesday: “The girls played defense really well today. It’s something we talked about all week and especially the last couple of days. We go to Neah Bay next. I will be watching the film on them the rest of the weekend.”
The boys’ side saw the Viking taking on the Muckleshoot Tribal School Kings. Aidan Murray was once again a leading piece of the Vikings game, handling minutes at every position imaginable in a game of basketball. Full effort from a starting five of Murray, Diego Lago, Sam Sutton, Paxton White and Mathew Eggenberg saw the Vikings control Muckleshoot for a 62-34 victory. A full playoff schedule calls for rest and rotation and the Viking bench depth stepped up with all 11 players on the roster seeing minutes, including freshman Remy Lago, who finished the game with 10 points including 2/2 from three-point land.
This win sends the Vikings to face perennial powerhouse and RPI ranked number six Lummi Nation on Tuesday. Coach Ed Lago was excited post-game and had positive words for the future of this season.
“It’s crazy but true — this is only the second time all season we’ve actually had all our guys healthy to play in a game,” he said. “It’s made us stronger though. The young dogs stepped up when the starters were out, and from it, the older players have learned to trust the younger ones on the floor. You’ve got to have trust. It’s been hard, but we’re in a really good place right now.”