Vikings lose to Friday Harbor, win first playoff games

by Ciennna Richardson

Orcas High School student

The Vikings’ basketball teams had a series of big games last week.

Orcas played long-time rival Friday Harbor on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Despite the high school comradery these games usually contain, there was an underlying hum of tension and energy as fans from both teams filed into the crowded gym. So many people turned up to the game that spectators were forced to sit shoulder to shoulder and knee to knee with the people on either side of them. The bleachers were overflowing and the game started five minutes late due to the amount of fans spilling off benches and lining the stairs of the bleachers.

“The energy of the varsity basketball games is always incredibly high and makes me feel as if I’m experiencing playing in the game myself,” said Vera Sasan, Orcas Island High School sophomore. “The nerves and the excitement of the crowd have such a big impact on the players and it’s so fun to watch the interaction between the crowd and the game happening on the court. It’s one of the most exciting events to go to during the school year.”

Tuesday was a “Blue Out” at the high school so students, staff and fans alike turned up in full Viking paraphernalia, which was a stark contrast to the purple “Beat Orcas” shirts predominantly worn by the opposing team.

Viking boys were up in the first quarter, leaving fans from both teams on the edge of their seats. Despite valiant efforts, the Vikings ended the game 66-74. It was a dramatic ending to the game as one of the Vikings’ star senior players, starter Eddie Cunningham’s torn ACL caused him quite a bit of distress. A timeout was called after he collapsed to the ground in pain. Fans watched as he was carried off the court and spent the rest of the game on the bench.

“Before the season even started, I tore my ACL, and I decided not to get the surgery and play through it and I just tweaked it during the game on Tuesday,” Cunningham said.

I think I can speak for everyone when I say we wish him a safe rest of the season and a speedy recovery! Despite his injury, Cunningham was Player of The Game with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

“I think we played well as a team,” he said. “The energy was great but we came up just short. We need to work on area perimeter defense and closing out but we are so close to being an unbelievably good team when we put it all together this team is going to be special.”

The Lady Vikings played a similarly close game, resulting in a 43-51 loss.

“Overall I think we did pretty well, we played hard for all four quarters, especially on the defensive end, and I think I did better than usual at driving to the rim, although It didn’t help that I got a concussion in the second quarter, but next time we play Friday Harbor I’m hoping for a win, and I definitely think we can win,” said sophomore starter Charlotte Winter Lamphere.

On Saturday, Feb. 4, the Viking boys played Grace Academy, winning 86-44, and the girls played Tulalip Heritage winning 34-29. Both were district playoff games.

“Tulalip is a great team, the first quarter is always not our best but we pushed through and made sure to turn up and play like we know how to play,” said Lady Viking sophomore starter Abril Perez Dominguez. “We had great defensive and great steals and made amazing shots! I love how connected the whole team is off and on the court we have a great bond which makes playing so much more easier!”

The Viking boys started out rough but brought it back later in the game.

“That was obviously not the start we were looking for, but it felt great to play how we know we are capable of. It was a great win to start off the playoffs and a good reminder that we can beat anyone when we are playing our game,” said senior starter Jefferson Freeman.

Next up for the Vikings are the district playoffs versus the Lummi on Tuesday, Feb. 6 on Lummi Island.