POULSBO — When NKHS girls’ basketball coach Dan Weedin watched the Olympia Bears Friday night, he knew he wasn’t looking into a mirror image of the Vikings.
But he hopes he was looking into their future.
The Bears, who had 10 returning players with varsity experience and are hovering around a top-10 ranking in state, used savvy, scoring, and a 22-point fourth quarter to blast past the Vikings, 68-40.
The Bears were led by Karima Raad, who had 17 points.
“That’s the kind of team we’re striving to be,” Weedin said afterwards of Bears (4-0).
As for the Vikings (0-2), Weedin didn’t think they played poorly.
Unlike the earlier loss to Bellarmine, Weedin felt the Vikings were able to move the ball around and get good shots.
In fact, the Vikings were able to stay in the game all night, until the Bears outscored them 22-7 in the fourth quarter.
The game started out well for the Vikings in general and center Sheena Brundage in particular.
Brundage’s seven first-quarter points were a big reason that the Vikings dueled closely with the Bears in the first quarter. She scored a layup from a Jennifer Harris pass; scooped an offensive rebound up and in; caught a Jessica Bento pass and flicked it into the hoop, and then converted the foul shot.
Brundage’s scoring was aided by Jessica Bento, who hit a driving layup to pull the Vikings within one, and Jennifer Ottele, who buried a jump shot to tie the game at 11.
But the Bears’ offense flexed its muscle late in the first; the Bears went on a 8-0 run to end the first quarter, with a Rachel Ward jumper giving them a 21-13 lead just as the quarter expired.
The Vikings fought back in the second.
Bento drove, was fouled, and hit a pair of free throws; Ottele buried another jumper; and Brundage, who pulled down 10 rebounds on the evening, grabbed a pair of offensive boards to keep a possession alive.
But the Bears’ apparently endless supply of scorers kept the pressure on. Bailee Bruun hit an inside scoop; Raad sank a pair of free throws; and when the half ended, the Bears held a nine-point lead, 33-24.
In the second half, the Bears tried to clamp down on the Vikings.
“We had zero energy to begin the game,” Olympia head coach Jeff Randich said. “We gave up too many points in the first quarter.”
Randich had a simple but effective technique to improve his team: “I yelled at them in halftime,” he said.
The Bears responded. Although the Vikings continued to score against the Bears, including Jennifer Ottele, who went 4-of-7 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line, the pace slowed down, as the Vikings scored only nine in the third period and seven in the fourth.
“We just ran out of gas,” Weedin said.
Overall though, the coach was happy with the team’s effort.
“We played a really good full game,” Weedin said. “But our offense couldn’t match them, and it’s difficult to play catch-up with a team like this.”
He said, “This is a quality opponent that gets us playing at a higher level.”
Brundage scored 14 points to lead the Vikings, and also had 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Ottele scored 11, while Sarah Bergman and Hailey Koivu added five apiece.