The Gig Harbor boys basketball team looks to keep its perfect record intact after handily beating three teams last week. On Wednesday, the 10-0 Tides go on the road to face the Yelm Tornadoes, and Friday they have a rematch at the league-title-challenging Timberline Blazers.
Gig Harbor edged Timberline in a thriller on Dec. 8, 73-71. Since then, both teams have gone unbeaten in the South Puget Sound 3A Conference. It was a back-and-forth battle decided in the fourth quarter when the Tides pilfered three steals and nailed some big shots down the stretch.
Luke Browne attacks for two of his 34 points against River Ridge. Photo courtesy of Jerry Chunn
Last Tuesday night, Gig Harbor played in front of the KING-5 TV cameras at the legendary Mercer Island gym. The state’s winningest high school coach, crafty Ed Pepple, used to pace the Islander sideline with an intense look and a tight maroon jacket. He has passed on, but he coached for an unbelievable 49 seasons, 42 with the Islanders, winning a staggering 952 games and four state titles. If he was still coaching, he would have been as impressed as the Seattle television viewers were with the Gig Harbor performance that resulted in a 71- 37 win.
The Tides flooded the Islanders with pressure defense, leading to an up-tempo running game and many layups. By the time Mercer Island realized it had to slow the Tides down, the tsunami had reached the shore. Gig Harbor moved the ball to the open man and poured in jump shots. Luke Browne led all scorers with his smooth jumper, amassing 20 points to go with six rebounds. Ryan Pickles played a fine floor game, scoring 14 points with a game-high five steals. Will Landram added 13 points, six rebounds and threw down a hard, two-handed jam for the TV cameras. Christian Parrish defended well and directed the offense, dishing out six assists, and Parker Born shot well from the floor, adding 10 points.
Asher Raquiza shoots it from long range over the outstretched arms of a River Ridge defender. Photo courtesy of Jerry Chunn
The Tides returned home Wednesday night to an appreciative student section that watched them defeat league opponent North Thurston, 75-42. The Rams hung tough early, but didn’t have enough firepower to keep up with the Tides and their quick, attacking style. Against Gig Harbor’s pressure defense, North Thurston often found itself getting into offensive sets and looking for quality shots with little time on the 35-second clock.
Gig Harbor was led by the 17 points and six rebounds from Will Landram, and the 17 points and four steals from the entertaining Ryan Pickles. Asher Raquiza showed his jumper early and often with 13 points and completed the double-double with 10 tough rebounds. Parrish was steady with 11 points and five assists, while Luke Browne chipped in with eight points and nine boards.
Will Landram throws one down against Mercer Island. Photo courtesy of Jerry Chunn
Friday night against River Ridge, Billy Landram got off to the best coaching start of his nine-year career at Gig Harbor. The Tides, with a 73-39 win, improved to 10-0. The team used a rotating, matchup 2-3 zone to keep the Hawks shooting from long range. The stronger Tides collected the misfires and raced upcourt before passing back to Browne for trailing 3-point shots. He hit four in a row from downtown in the first four minutes and continued hot, with an assortment of drives and midrange pull-ups. He finished with 34 points and eight rebounds.
Landram added a double-double, scoring 12 points and ripping 13 traffic rebounds, and also had another rattling baseline dunk. Pickles had another stat-stuffer game with eight points, seven rebounds and five assists while handling the point guard duties for the ill Parrish. Racquiza showed his versatility from the guard spot by battling for 10 rebounds, and Parker Born was efficient again with nine points and solid screens to free Browne for open jump shots. The reserves entered the game early and chipped in with five points from freshman Cole Browne and six physical rebounds from junior Brit Born.
Christian Parrish races for a layup against Mercer Island. Photo courtesy of Jerry Chunn
“We played well the last three games,” Coach Landram said. “Our defense has been tough. We’ve been working on the small things that hopefully will pay the team dividends later this season.”
Landram has also been pleased with the offensive balance, saying, “Teamwork is always an area of emphasis. We have shared the ball well this year for sure.”
They’ll need to continue the ball movement and suffocating defense if they are to remain unbeaten at Yelm on Wednesday and Timberline Friday night in Lacey. Tipoff for both games is 7 p.m.
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