Klahowya’s Gabriel Smith extends past the Vashon Island defense in his team’s district game on Feb. 9. The Eagles season came to an end with a 52-42 loss. (Jacob Moore/Kitsap News Group)

Klahowya’s Gabriel Smith extends past the Vashon Island defense in his team’s district game on Feb. 9. The Eagles season came to an end with a 52-42 loss. (Jacob Moore/Kitsap News Group)

Klahowya’s season ends in district tournament

Mid-season hot streak put the Eagles in contention for a league championship

SILVERDALE — Klahowya experienced many highs and many lows this year. A poor start was followed by a mid-season hot streak put the Eagles in contention for a league championship.

But unfortunately the season came to an end Feb. 9 with a 52-42 loss to Vashon Island in the district tournament.

Despite not moving forward in the postseason, head coach Bryan Thoemke said he’s proud of his team.

“We started the season 0-6, and a lot of guys would have thrown in the towel,” he said. “But, these guys didn’t … and you could tell when they played Vashon Island that they played with confidence. Just that improvement that they made over the season is tremendous.”

With Klahowya’s defense keeping Vashon out of the paint, as evidenced by a missed layup right from the opening tip, the Pirates instead focus on 3-pointers, which helped them to an early 9-2 lead, forcing an Eagles timeout.

Klahowya regrouped and staked themselves to an early advantage as the Vashon offense went cold from the 3-point line, at one point missing six in a row, but its lead was never larger than four.

“[Vashon Island] is a tough defensive team,” Thoemke said. “They put a lot of pressure on us. We knew that we were going to have to play a near perfect game, and we did our best.”

The Pirates erased a 17-13 deficit with a 9-0 run to grab a five-point lead before halftime. Senior Tim Coots, who scored nine points in the game, said after the game that, at the time, the team just needed to get back to the game plan.

The game slowed down in the third quarter as both teams combined for just 11 points and Klahowya getting just three of those. The offense was unable to get any momentum going, though the defense helped keep the Pirates at bay.

“I think it’s near the top,” Thoemke said of how he would rank this defensive game of all games this season. “I think we were really solid tonight. We made Vashon work for every basket.”

It didn’t help matters that leading scorer John Hartford had to miss time in the second half after a scrape drew blood. He led the Eagles with 17 points.

Despite everything, Klahowya was in the game until the very end as a few Vashon Island miscues kept the game close. Only a few late 3-pointers pushed the Pirates out to its final margin of 10 points.

If there is a silver lining, it’s that Klahowya gets to return next year with a much more experienced group. The Eagles lose only two seniors — Coots and Garrett Betzing. The core of the team should be much better prepared for the ups and downs that come with each season.

“A lot of people counted us out before this game,” Coots said. “But we’ve had an incredible season. Scratch that, a historic season. We built up a lot of chemistry … Me and [Betzing] are the only seniors that won’t be here next year, so I’m excited about this team’s future. A lot of players got experience.”

— Jacob Moore is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at jmoore@soundpublishing.com.