By Mary Zier
The Viking men beat Friday Harbor 63-53 in a pivotal game likely to determine the league champion in a three-way fight between the Vikings, Friday Harbor and LaConner. Orcas leads the conference at 9-1, followed by Friday Harbor and LaConner both tied at 8-2.
“Two rival towns fully out and backing their local teams as they came to a second face-off that would likely decide the no. 1 position for the regular season. The pace was fast, athletic, and well executed by both teams,” said Coach Corey Wiscomb. “Friday Harbor only committed nine turnovers the entire game and shot 75 percent from the free-throw line as a team. However, Orcas committed only eight turnovers and shot 80 percent from the line as a team.”
Orcas put on a defensive clinic in the first quarter, forcing five turnovers and ending the quarter 14-9. The Vikings remained focused and went to the locker room up 29-22 at the half.
“Our scoring was evenly distributed and that made us a much stronger team,” said Wiscomb. “Vanya Bullock is our leading scorer and teams have now switched to keeping a player tight on him. I particularly think Miles Harlow, Aidan Kruse and Hayden Simpson stepped up to the plate this game. [Harlow] and Aidan both scored in double digits and were monsters on the boards. Harlow also joined Simpson with a hat-trick of three 3-point baskets that were all huge. Cyrus Amour played consistent all game. Yusuf Duni stepped in for a couple huge buckets. Jordan Randolph probably did his best job all season of controlling the tempo of the game, his pacing was spot on.”
Wiscomb said Friday Harbor dug in and put up a gritty final surge in the fourth that cut the game as close as 9 points, but Orcas rebuffed the attempt with composure.
“We were all so proud to bring that victorious feeling to our hometown,” said Wiscomb. “We feel like everyone has given us so much, and this is our way to give it all back. Scoring breakdown was Bullock 15; Harlow 12; Kruse 10; Amour 9; Simpson 9; Duni 6; Randolph 2.”
Orcas traveled to Shoreline Christian on Jan. 27, for a 77-33 win.
“Jordan Randolph put a quick ball fake up to freeze the defense before kicking it to Aidan Kruse for a monster two-handed dunk on the right side that brought nearly everyone in the gym to their feet,” said Wiscomb. “We had a fairly easy win that saw lots of playing time for all players and gave a good preview of what is likely to be next year’s squad.”
Bullock scored 23 points; Duni 14; Murphy 12; Kruse 6; Harlow 5; Amour 4; Mullan 4; Simpson 3; Randolph 2; White 2; and Chesher 2.
Vikings faced Mt. Vernon Christian Monday, Jan. 30 at home, then traveled off island to play the Darrington Loggers on Feb. 1.
The Lady Vikings had back to back critical wins against Friday Harbor and Shoreline Christian last week as the season nears its end. The most anticipated game was the rematch against Friday Harbor at Orcas Island High School on Jan. 26. Home court advantage is a fantasy between these teams, so after a Viking win in their first meeting at Friday Harbor High School, head coach Gregg Sasan expected a focused and determined Wolverine team backed by plenty of vocal San Juan Island fans.
“We won 45-41 and are very evenly matched as the score shows. Both teams had very good defense the entire game. The score was tight the whole game, we were up only 36-31 going into the fourth quarter, but we got sloppy and started turning the ball over. We had nine turnovers in the fourth quarter, but Friday Harbor also had seven,” said Sasan. “Maia Lewis-Shunk and Katy Minnis defensively helped us forcing a combined 10 turnovers. We shot 8/15 from the field goal line which is alright, but we need to do better at that and take care of the ball better. Minnis led all scorers with 21 and Bethany Hansen had 11 rebounds, both of which really helped the team.”
The next day, the Vikings beat Shoreline Christian 43-19. Sasan took the opportunity to bring in some JV players.
“We had a lot of players get minutes which is great experience for the younger players,” said Sasan. “JV players Parker Landsman and Brittney Kern did very well coming off the bench and really contributed to the team. Katy did her job again as the top scorer with 23 points.”
The Lady Vikings finished the week third in the conference at 7-3, behind undefeated LaConner at 10-0 and Mt. Vernon Christian at 8-2. The Mt. Vernon Christian Hurricanes traveled to Orcas on Jan. 30, and the ladies go off island on Feb. 1 to face Darrington.