A week full of basketball games, caused by the snow-outs of the week before, ended with the Viking girls and boys each sharing the Wesco 4A North lead with three games apiece remaining before the District playoffs.
The boys (9-3 in league, 12-6 overall) were tied with Snohomish while the girls (11-1 in league, 16-1 overall) were deadlocked with Stanwood.
AT LS GIRLS 52, SNOHOMISH 35 (January 23)
Snohomish arrived with a four-game win streak but after three three and a half minutes Lake had blown out to a 16-0 lead.
Lake scored on its first seven shots. Seconds after the opening tipoff Brittney Pahukoa nailed a three, followed by a Kali Long lay-in, a Brooke Pahukoa short jumper, two more baskets by Brittney including a three, and Abby Molstre finished off the run with a pair of field goals.
That’s the kind of balance and explosiveness which has carried this season’s Viking team to the heights of success.
Snohomish dug in and closed out the quarter on a 7-0 run of its own. Lake held a 24-14 halftime lead and when Snohomish edged to within 28-20 in the third quarter Lake launched another killer run, 16-2, to put the game away for good.
Long finished with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, three steals and a blocked shot.
Brittney had 10 points, five assists and four steals.
Molstre had 13 points, nine rebounds, six assists, a steal and two blocked shots.
The Viking defense held Snohomish to 25% shooting.
LS GIRLS 56 AT STANWOOD 60 (January 25)
In a game rife with the intensity and drama and quality of a State Tournament semi-final (it could happen in March!) the Spartans edged out the Vikings in a thriller.
Stanwood, beaten by Lake 61-52 earlier in the season, displayed ferocious intensity and exemplary preparedness in taking down the Vikings this time. The much taller Spartans dominated the rebounding (40-29, reversing Lake’s advantage in the first contest) and on defense clogged the middle, flustering Lake into 32% shooting for the game.
Lake hamstrung itself with an atypically poor third quarter in which it made just one basket in 12 tries and missed seven of its 11 free throws. But Lake’s defense dug in, enabling it to trail by just 42-36 entering the fourth (Lake was behind by 17-13 at the quarter break and by 33-30 at halftime).
The Vikings showed the heart of a champion by cutting an 11-point Spartan lead down to two points in the game’s final four minutes.
Dakotah Pilon’s three with a minute left cut Stanwood’s lead to 54-52, but that’s as close as Lake was able to come. Stanwood eked out the win by making all 10 of its free throws in the fourth quarter.
Brooke had 11 points, six rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals.
Brittney had 14 points, three assists, three rebounds, seven steals and a blocked shot.
Katie Goddard had 11 points, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
AT LS BOYS 45 STANWOOD 43 (January 24)
Add this one to the list of classic thrillers that these teams have played against each other for well over half a century.
Viking guard Christian Gasca saved the game for Lake when, with the score tied and 17 seconds remaining, he ran down Stanwood’s Mason Garcea who was streaking to the basket for what looked like an uncontested breakaway lay-in, cleanly blocking Garcea’s shot out of bounds.
Three seconds later Viking defensive pressure forced a Stanwood turnover, but as Viking guard Kevin Smith attempted to bring the ball upcourt he nearly lost possession on three occasions against Stanwood’s press. After crossing the halfcourt line, with Spartans surrounding him, Smith somehow managed to spot Gasca who had sneaked free under the basket, firing a perfect pass to the latter who laid it in with two seconds left.
After a Stanwood time out Gasca sealed the win by stealing Stanwood’s pass near midcourt.
While these final seconds will be recounted in Viking lore for years to come, what lead up to them should not be overlooked.
Following a nearly two weeks snow-caused layoff for both teams, neither was at its best in terms of execution or shooting, but what this game may have lacked in terms of polish it more than made up for in sheer intensity and dogged effort.
Stanwood was especially rusty at the outset, shooting a miserable two of 16 in each of the first two quarters (including several missed lay-ins), enabling Lake to lead by 12-4 at the quarter and 22-11 at halftime. Lake’s biggest lead in the first half was 22-8.
Devin Stoen led Lake in scoring in the first half with eight points.
Brennan Williams ignited the inevitable Stanwood comeback in the third quarter with consecutive lay-ins followed by a three which tied the game at 24-all at 4:15, finishing an eight-point Spartan run. Stanwood tied the game on five separate occasions in the second half but never took the lead.
Stoen’s short shot with 52 seconds left in the quarter gave Lake the 30-28 lead it carried into the fourth.
Stoen’s mid-range jumper at the outset of the fourth made it 32-28, and Gasca’s steal and lay-in at 6:50 put Lake ahead by 36-31.
Williams two free throws at 6:10 cut that to 36-35.
Pahukoa’s shot from the head of the key followed by Gasca’s lay-in at 4:05 made it 40-35.
A pair of twisting lay-ins by Cannen Roberson sandwiched around a close-in basket by Garcea tied the game at 41-all with 1:30 left.
Another head of the key bucket by Pahukoa regained the lead for Lake 43-41 with 1:11 left.
Williams’ drive to the basket tied it at 43 with 55 seconds left, setting up the amazing finish outlined above.
While Gasca’s game-deciding heroics grabbed most of the headlines, Pahukoa’s contributions should not be overlooked: 12 points (on six of eight shooting), 15 rebounds, two assists and three blocked shots.
Stoen led Lake in scoring with 14 points, while Smith scored nine points along with four assists and six rebounds. Gasca totaled eight points and had two assists, four rebounds, four steals and a blocked shot.
ARLINGTON 69 AT LS 78 (January 27)
The packed Viking gym was crackling with energy and excitement for Coaches Against Cancer and Junior Viking Cheerleader night and the game itself matched that enthusiasm and fire as these two old rivals put on a scintillating performance.
Both teams were at the top of their form as Arlington, making eight of its nine shots in the first quarter (including three of four threes) led by 19-18 after the first eight minutes. Smith scored eight and Pahukoa six points for the Vikings in the period.
Smith added a pair of threes and Gasca had another as Lake pulled ahead by 36-32 at halftime.
Lake’s hot shooting continued in the third quarter where Lake made seven of 11 shots including four of five threes to lead by 57-42.
Stoen, who was zero for three in the first half, was unstoppable in the final two quarters, making six of his seven field goal tries including four of four threes.
Arlington, behind Terrry Dawn’s 15 points in the fourth quarter, pulled to within 73-67 with 26 seconds left but Pahukoa put it out of reach with a full-court “home run” pass to Smith for the game-cinching lay-in.
Dawn, who scored 30 points in Lake’s 72-70 win at Arlington earlier this season, finished with 28 points this time.
Co-player of the game for Lake was Pahukoa, who recorded another double-double with 19 points (six of 10 field goals and seven of eight free throws), 13 rebounds and four assists.
Smith earned co-player of the game honors with 21 points, eight assists, three rebounds and three steals.
Stoen, who scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half also had four assists.
Tory Rothgeb in the low post set some solid screens and grabbed five rebounds.
The two teams combined to shoot 50%.
JACKSON 67 AT LS 40 (January 28)
Jackson, leader of Wesco South, met Lake, leader of Wesco North in what turned out to be a lopsided affair.
From the outset it was obvious that the Vikings had no legs, no energy, no stamina left after its high-octane battle versus Arlington the night before.
Jackson methodically wore down the already worn-out Vikings, utilizing its superior height and effectively passing the ball around, over and through a Lake defense which was half a step behind the whole night.
Lake shot a miserable 31% to Jackson’s 50% as the Timberwolves cashed in on multiple lay-ins, many of them on put-backs (Jackson had 42 rebounds, Lake 27).
Nor could Lake defend Jackson’s outside shooting as the latter converted six of 12 threes, most of them wide-open looks.
Jackson’s outstanding sophomore 6-7 Jason Todd notched 20 points and had 15 rebounds while seeming to barely break a sweat.
Perhaps a more rested Viking squad will be able to make a game of it should these two teams meet again in the playoffs.
Stoen, with 14 points, was Lake’s only double-figure scorer.
KEY STATS ONLY: LS 62 AT MARINER 38 (January 13)
Smith: 18 points, four rebounds, three assists.
Gasca: 13 points, three assists.
Pahukoa: 15 rebounds, five assists.
Dakota Tomson: four rebounds, three steals.
Jared Rahn: nine points, four rebounds, two assists.