PORT ANGELES — The sport of basketball will hold court when Peninsula College holds its fifth Pirate Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday at The Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course.
Going into the Hall of Fame are Paul Woolpert, Tiffany Hoch, Garrett Abbott, Tony Burke and the 2011 Northwest Athletic Conference champion Pirate men’s basketball team.
“This is going to be a great basketball-themed celebration,” said Rick Ross, associate dean for athletics. “Our Hall of Fame committee landed on players from the late 1970s, from the re-start of basketball in 1997 and the team that won the first men’s basketball championship of the modern era in 2011.”
Tickets for the event are sold out. The Pirate Hall of Fame induction happens every other year with this year’s inductees bringing the total to eight teams and 17 individuals.
The 2010-11 Pirates did something no Pirate basketball team had done since 1970 — they won a championship. And most remarkably, they did it under first-year head coach Lance Von Vogt. It was a hard-working, tough, gritty team that bought into Von Vogt’s vision of winning a championship and had the talent and heart to accomplish that feat.
To win, the Pirates rode the guard play of Mitrell Clark, Sam Waller and Thad Vinson, as well as the inside play of DeShaun Freeman, Anthony Williams, team captain Jeremiah Johnson and Jerry Johnson, to dispatch the top-seeded teams in the tournament, taking out the No. 1, 3, 4 and 5-ranked teams and beating Pierce in an 80-76 thriller in the championship.
The Sequim High School multi-sport athlete came from a basketball-rich family. Paul Woolpert’s father Phil coached Bill Russell to back-to-back NCAA championships as head coach of the University of San Francisco in 1955 and ’56.
In two years at Peninsula, Woolpert led the Pirates in scoring and rebounding under new head coach Tim Fryer. The Pirates struggled those two years, going 4-21 in 1979-80 and 8-15 in 1980-81, but his career in basketball was just getting started.
Woolpert transferred to the University of Portland, where he got his start in coaching as a student assistant.
He became a scout for the Seattle SuperSonics in 1986 and later with the Portland Trailblazers in 1995, where he worked for NBA coaches including Bernie Bickerstaff, K.C. Jones and George Karl.
He then became a coach himself when he took the head job at the Yakima Sun Kings in 1998 and went on to win three Continental Basketball Association championships and was three times named coach of the year.
After overcoming two ACL reconstructions that plagued her high school career, Tiffany Hoch was cleared to play for the Pirates, and her grandfather, head coach Curt Bagby, midway through Peninsula’s inaugural season in 1997.
The Pirates had lost all of their non-conference games to that point, but she provided an immediate spark, averaging 14 points and five rebounds per game, and leading the team in three-point shooting, as the Pirates went 7-9 in league play.
Hoch came back her sophomore year with a larger and more balanced roster, contributing 12 points and four rebounds per game, helping her Pirates to 12 wins in the 1998-99 season. Bagby had recruited a number of talented players who, along with Hoch, were the pioneers who launched the sport of women’s basketball at Peninsula College. She emerged as a leader of that team and a coach on the floor.
After transferring to Central Washington, Hoch began a successful coaching career that spanned high school, junior high and AAU basketball in Montana, where she resides with her husband, former Pirate Kevin Patrick, and their children.
A Port Angeles High School basketball star, Garrett Abbott was on the short list of recruits when Mark Amaral was awarded the job as Peninsula College men’s basketball coach in 1997, restarting a program that was dropped in 1982. Playing alongside teammate Tony Burke, he shined in black and gold.
Abbott made history, scoring Peninsula’s first field goal in the season-opening game against Grays Harbor in November 1997, and he went on to average 18 points and six rebounds per game that year, leading the Pirates to an 11-16 record.
In Abbott’s sophomore year, he continued to fill it up, again averaging 18 points a game and this time taking the Pirates to the brink of the playoffs with a 19-9 record, 8-8 in league. He played in the NWAC All-Star Game, where he led all scorers with 25 points.
His success as a Pirate landed him a scholarship to play for the University of Alaska-Anchorage. He completed his playing career at UAA and remained in Alaska for 20 years, staying active in the Alaska and Northwest basketball community. His work as an executive in the oil industry took Abbott and his family to Houston, where he coaches youth basketball and baseball year-round.
Along with his PAHS teammate Abbott, Burke signed to play for the Pirates and Mark Amaral, who was awarded the job as Peninsula College men’s basketball coach in 1997, restarting a program that was dropped in 1982. Burke led the team in scoring his freshman year, averaging 19 points per game, as the Pirates went 11-16 on the season.
He came back even stronger his sophomore year.
The Pirates opened 5-0 and finished non-conference play 11-1.
With Burke and Abbott averaging 40 points a game, and a deep and talented cast of teammates around them, the Pirates were the hottest team in the Northwest Athletic Conference and a sure thing to compete for a title when he went down with a knee injury on Jan. 9, 1999.
Without Burke on the floor, the Pirates went 8-8 in league play and fell out of the playoff picture. He had missed the final 13 games of the season, but still was selected a North All-Star.
He went on to play on scholarship at Lewis Clark College in Idaho before returning to his community, where he continued to be involved in basketball, including coaching.
Burke’s energy, speed and relentless play on both ends of the floor cemented his name in any conversation about who were the most exciting players to ever wear a Pirate jersey.