This was not the same Vashon Island High School boys basketball team that coach Andy Sears had seen this last month of the season.
Two big runs from King’s Way Christian ended the Pirates season, 53-40, on Saturday at Battle Ground High School in the regional round of the 1A state basketball tournament.
"Just two really, really poor stretches," Sears said. "The easy baskets were really killer tonight."
That negated the 17 points from Casper Forest, who was one of the few key contributors returning from last year’s Vashon team, which lost four of its top five scorers from a year ago.
Yet, here the Pirates were, back in the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year and fresh off the 1A Nisqually title.
"Just phenomenal coaching," Forest said of getting back to state. "And every practice in the morning realizing every little thing we do matters and helps us get this far."
Vashon trailed 15-13 in the second quarter when sloppy offense – including three consecutive turnovers – led to easy fastbreaks buckets for King’s Way Christian, which advances to the Yakima SunDome. The Knights ended the first half on a 14-4 run to lead 29-17.
The Pirates found some offensive rhythm to start the third quarter. Forest hit a pair of 3-pointers to cut King’s Way Christian’s lead to six. Forest set Vashon’s single-season record with 57 3-pointers.
Then KWC went on another run to push the lead to 44-31 with about five minutes to play. Vashon went to a zone press and forced four turnovers on five possessions, but didn’t capitalize. The Pirates went 0-for-6 from the field with a three turnovers of its own in the stretch, with Sears falling to his knees to try to call a timeout after the Pirates missed a 3-pointer that would have cut the lead to seven and got the offensive rebound –only to be called for a travel.
"We had some good looks at 3 and missed – not characteristic of this team," Sears said. "Especially the past month of the season. That’s what makes this loss so hard."
"I think it was a little bit of nerves," Forest said. "Just being a part of a game that could have been my last, it was really hard."
Vashon won eight consecutive games to clinch a state tournament berth.
"We played really good basketball at times and got some awesome wins," Sears said. "We’ll look back and be proud of what we put into the season and what we got out of it. This stinks right now, but we’ll look back and be proud."
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN
V: Langston Dziko 5, Noah Edmonds 8, Jahmiah Hoogen 2, Rhys Jennings 6, Casper Forest 17, Colin Pottinger 2
KW: Pulicella 5, Graves 12, Mills 11, Garrison 10, Freeman 15