As it turned out Friday at the Fieldhouse, missing four starters wasn’t much of a problem for the Whitworth Pirates.
It just gave them a chance to showcase their depth.
Freshman Brad Lackey (23 points) and senior Chewy Zevenbergen (14) were among four Pirates players who set career highs in scoring, and the Whitworth men’s basketball team defeated Puget Sound 86-75 in its first game back after a two-week hiatus.
“What exceeded my expectations was just how balanced we ended up getting offensively,” Pirates coach Damion Jablonski said. “It was awesome to see some of our seniors (and) see some of our freshmen in different roles really step up and answer the call.”
A positive COVID-19 test two weeks ago shut down the Pirates’ program for 10 days, during which they were supposed to play two home games each against Northwest Conference rivals Pacific Lutheran and Whitman.
But it ended up that Friday’s contest became the Pirates’ third straight game – and victory – against the Loggers (1-6 overall, 1-6 NWC).
They won this time without regular starters Rowan Anderson, Miguel Lopez, JT McDermott and Liam Fitzgerald, who are still working their way back through health and safety protocols.
In their place started senior Tanner Fogle, sophomore Jerry Twenge and Lackey, all of whom hadn’t started before for the Pirates (5-3, 3-0).
Twenge, a Mt. Spokane graduate, finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, both career highs. Freshman Jake Holtz came off the bench and set his career bests with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“Definitely people had to step up, fill some roles,” Zevenbergen said. “People were out, and I think we did that tonight.”
The Pirates trailed by as many as eight in the first half as they worked their way into a rhythm. With just over 8 minutes left in the half, the Loggers led 30-24.
But then Holtz drained a 3-pointer and followed it with an offensive rebound and an inside basket on the next possession. After a Fogle steal, Garrett Paxton – the lone regular starter in the lineup – drained a 3-pointer in transition that gave the Pirates a 32-30 lead.
Whitworth led 50-40 at half and never trailed again.
Lackey scored 16 of his 23 points after halftime, including a pair of 3-pointers that came just before the shot clock expired. The second of those restored a double-digit lead for Whitworth (75-65) with 5:08 left after UPS had drawn within four points earlier in the second half.
“I told Brad earlier today, I don’t view you as a freshman any more,” Jablonski said of Lackey, who played 36 minutes. “It might be a shortened season, but you’ve already got experience under your belt, and we need you to go out there and run the show, and he stepped up and did it.”
The Loggers, who don’t have a senior on their roster, were led by freshman Paul Johnson, who had 14 points and made 4 of 10 3-point attempts. Sophomores C.J. Geathers and Jourdan Joseph each added 13 points.
The teams will meet again at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Fieldhouse in what could be Whitworth’s final home game of the year. Their home games against Pacific Lutheran and Whitman have yet to be rescheduled.
That means Pirates seniors might not have a Senior Night, something with which Zevenbergen had made peace.
“It’s tough, but the whole world’s going through it, so you gotta be understanding of that,” he said. “Just enjoy the moment, live in the moment with the team, and definitely cherish these memories.”
Puget Sound women 79, Whitworth 58: Paige Gerhart scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Loggers (2-3, 2-3) over the Pirates (1-1, 1-1) at the Fieldhouse.
Former North Central standout Quincy McDeid paced Whitworth with 18 points. Megan Dorney added 12 points and nine rebounds.
The teams play again at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.