LANGLOIS — It’s been an emotional stretch for the Pacific boys basketball team.
In losing senior wing Steven White, who’s battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the Pirates lost both a leader and an important cog in their offense. It has forced others to step up in his place, and early returns are encouraging.
Steven’s sophomore brother Sean scored 25 points Saturday night, Colton Morrill-Keeler had 16 and Kross Miller added 10 filling in for the concussed Davyn Brown as the Pirates topped New Hope 60-34 in a Skyline League basketball game. Jeremy Joling had 18 points for the Warriors.
Pacific's Kross Miller drives the ball as New Hope Christian's Bryce Dennis defends Saturday at Pacific High School.
“We’ve played well at times,” Pacific coach Ben Stallard said. “Regardless of who we’re playing we’ve played well at times. We’re definitely in a learning curve.”
It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but it was a win and Stallard will take it.
Pacific committed 26 turnovers in the win, and the offense was inconsistent and “sloppy,” as Stallard put it.
But it was an emotional night Saturday, with many in attendance, including Stallard and assistant coach Bob Lemerande, wearing purple shirts with Steven White’s name and number 22 on the back.
As a result, Sean wanted to show his big brother that he, too, can score the basketball.
“I feel really great ‘cause I wanted to come out and show my brother I can play,” Sean White said. “I’m playing for him. I’m playing for my fans and my family.”
Sean White corralled the opening tip and raced in for a layup, setting the tone for his performance against the Warriors.
The sophomore consistently drove past defenders with his dominant left hand and got to the rim, netting 13 first-half points with a 3-pointer.
Pacific's Steven White welcomes his teammates onto the court before a recent game against New Hope Christian at Pacific High School.
It helped to stabilize an offense that is missing one of its central features.
“We had some messed up things, but we went through it,” Sean White said.
Like the girls in Saturday's earlier game (also won by Pacific), it took some time for the Pirates to pull away, though a little longer than the earlier game.
New Hope stayed close to Pacific, playing to an even 10-10 tie after the first quarter.
But then the Pirates turned it on.
Pacific opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run, then closed on a 9-2 run to lead 29-16 going into the locker rooms and the Pirates never looked back.
Morrill-Keeler, who had some bad luck with good inside looks rolling out, had 11 of his 16 points in the second half.
Pacific scored 21 third-quarter points despite only really using five players. Morrill-Keeler had to come out in the second quarter to change his jersey when it got blood on it, but the five Pacific starters — White, Morrill-Keeler, Miller, Devon Richard and Jordan Walker — played essentially the whole game. White and Morrill-Keeler came off late in the fourth quarter as the bench emptied.
“I think we always play hard,” Stallard said. “Bottom line I just think we play hard. I can handle losing as long as our attitude and effort is good. What more can you ask for?”
Since losing five straight in December, Pacific has gone 4-2 in its last six games. The Pirates visit Yoncalla on Friday.