POULSBO — When it comes to finales, the latest North End junior high rivalry Jan. 18 wasn’t the most sentimental or the most exciting, but it was the last time these two boys basketball teams will do battle as junior highs.
Next year, Poulsbo and Kingston junior highs will transition into middle schools as their ninth grades will join the high school ranks, while each school will welcome sixth grades to their respective halls.
In terms of athletics, that means next year, the North End will be coming out en masse to watch the school’s seventh and eighth grade varsity teams. Thursday was a time for the freshmen to shine.
And Kingston’s Cavs beamed on the afternoon as the Poulsbo Panthers lost the game on their home court by a score of 48-35.
The Cavs’ defense was a dominant factor in the game, Herald junior writer Nathaniel Reeves reports.
“We shot the ball horribly,” said Poulsbo head coach Clary Carlsen. “When you can’t shoot, the other team will score more points.”
The Panthers came out strong in the first, building a 14-9 lead by forcing turnovers and getting to the free throw line. But their fortune reversed in the second quarter, when Kingston controlled both ends of the floor and took a 30-21 lead into halftime — outscoring Poulsbo by a count of 21-9 in the second frame.
When asked if the elements of closure attached to the game had much of an influence on his strategy coming into the contest, Kingston’s Jon George, who scored 13 points on the game — 12 in the Cavs’ breakout second quarter — said, “No, not really; I just wanted to have fun, come out here and do my thing and get the win.”
On the other end of the floor, the Panthers’ strategy sent players into the game in waves — sometimes five at a time.
“When a group that was working well comes out, there is a lot of pressure on the group coming in” said Carlsen. “Of course, they have to respond to that pressure”.
The Panthers seemed to respond as they pulled within five, trailing 30-25 with 6:50 remaining in the third.
Then Kingston shored up its defense. Poulsbo only scored 10 points the rest of the game, as the Cavs pulled away by taking advantage of free throws.
The Cavs got contributions from Aaron Lawrence who led the team with 16, adding to George’s 13 while George Hill scored 7.
Brandon Winkely lead the Panthers offense with 13 points — 11 in the first half — and Austin Abrahamson chipped in 5.
“We just got fired up during the half and we just kicked it in,” George said of the Cavs. “We wanted it really bad, we just wanted to win because its our last game of the actual regular season.”
The win also earns Kingston (1-7) its first win and a split with Poulsbo (2-6) on the season, after the Panthers won at Kingston 50-44 on Dec. 6.
Both teams finished the week with makeup games and will head into tournament play beginning Jan. 23, opponents and sites have yet to be determined.
Check for updates at the Kingston Junior High School Web site at www.nksd.wednet.edu/schools/kingstonjrhi/KJH_Web2/index.htm under the boys basketball standings button.