Frank Workman on Sports: It was a banner year

Friday, June 24, 2016

By Frank Workman

It’s been a banner year for our local high school athletes, and with the school year coming to a close this week, now’s a good time for a look back at the year and remember a few favorite players, stories and moments.

Ronnie Gary in the Rotary Cup
Photo by Wayne Pridemore

The Rotary Cup Game featured all the drama you could ask for, as Shorecrest hung on for an exciting 14-12 win over Shorewood. The T-Birds got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining in the game, trailing 14-6. When QB Aaron Okamura completed a long touchdown pass to a streaking Ronnie Gary, SW was a two-point conversion away from tying the game. But SC’s Marvin Yong intercepted the pass intended for Gary in the end zone to preserve the win. Yong sat out the entire season before to injury, yet he attended every practice his junior year, wanting to be as ready as possible should he be challenged during his senior year. Yong rose to the occasion when it mattered the most, and the Rotary Cup returned to Shorecrest yet again.

Ronnie Gary at the Shoreline Invitational
Photo by Corey Rainboth
Ronnie Gary came this close to thrilling an overflow crowd this spring at the Shoreline Invitational Track Meet. With the fans rhythmically clapping their hands to get his juices flowing for his try at 7-feet in the high jump, he got his shoulder, back, rump, legs and feet over the bar, only to knock it over with his trailing hand. There couldn’t have been but a handful of fans in attendance who’d ever seen somebody clear seven feet in the high jump. Sadly, none of us got to be added to that list.

Delaney Hopen spikes the ball in a 2015 game
with Edmonds Woodway
Photo by Wayne Pridemore

Last fall, Shorewood’s Volleyball team brought home a fourth-place trophy, finishing off a dream season for coach Jenn Chartrand’s girls. Senior Delaney Hopen struck fear in the hearts of the opposition with serves as powerful as her smile is bright. 

Sophia Viviano
Photo Geoff Vlcek

Sometimes when you watch an elite high school athlete, it’s apparent that he or she is ready to play at a higher level. Such has been the case for SC soccer star Sophia Viviano. She led her team to a second-place finish at State as a junior, and this past fall her team ‘settled’ for making it to the quarter-finals. It was breathtaking to watch her long legs inhale ground as she flew past defender after defender, game after game.

Saturday March 5 was the day that both SC basketball teams played for the 2A State Championship in Yakima. The sting of the boys heart-breaking one-point loss was soon erased by the girls' team bringing home the school’s first basketball championship trophy. Seeing tears of joy, instead of sadness, on the faces of the girls after the final game of the season was unique, almost unsettling, due to the team’s completely unexpected march to the championship.

Part of the reason the SC girls championship was so unexpected was due to the way they were beaten up by the excellent competition they faced in their league. Lynnwood returned speedy Jordyn Edwards and Mikayla Pivec from their State Championship team the year before. Glacier Peak likely would have gone to state if not for injuries. Edmonds-Woodway took home a sixth-place trophy at State, and Arlington made it all the way to the championship game this year. The Scots could only muster a single win in seven tries against this top-notch 3A competition, but when the playoffs came around, the 2A Scots feasted on the smaller schools. 

As unexpected as the Scots’ basketball championship was, their girls track team carried the heavy burden of high expectations all spring, having won State the previous year, primarily on the strong, fast legs of Wurrie Njadoe, who won four events as a junior. But win it all again they did, with much more of a team effort this year. 

Wurrie Njadoe
with State Medal
Two favorite moments from the track season - in an early season meet, Njadoe and Edwards squared off in the 200. Wurrie had a small lead at the top of the turn, but then her Roadrunner jet pack seemed to kick in and she outran her rival by five yards down the stretch.

It was magnificent to watch two of the state’s fastest going head-to-head. And the reports from the State meet of Miss Pivec, trailing by a mere inch with just one throw remaining in the javelin, coming though in the clutch, once again, to win the event on her final throw --- by 13 feet!

But my favorite moment of the entire year came on an obscure Friday night when the SC girls were playing at mighty Lynnwood. The Royals (royalty, indeed) were allowing only 35 points per game at that time, yet on this night the Scots put 61 on the board against the defending champs. Never mind that Lynnwood won the game by 25, the mere fact that the Scots could score nearly double the points usually allowed by Lynnwood was amazing.

Uju Chibuogwu at Hoopapalooza
Photo by  Geoff Vlcek

The Scots were led this night by senior Uju Chibuogwu. Built like a cross between a brick outhouse and an old oak tree, Uju has deceptive quickness to go with her strength, and her long-range shooting skills were on full display for all to see this night at Lynnwood. Hitting three after three from behind the arc, in spite of being tightly guarded all night, she had the crowd oohing and aahing, even the Lynnwood fans.

With three seconds remaining on the clock, the Scots were inbounding the ball from mid-court, trailing by 25. Normally the ball would be passed in and held, letting time expire. But one of the Lynnwood students, sitting in the front row, rose to his feet, cupped his hands, and made a loud plea – “Pass it to #40”.

He wanted to see if Uju had one more impossible shot left.

So did we all.
THAT was my favorite moment of this banner year.


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