YAKIMA — The season ended on a bit of a sour note for the Vikings, but the team still finished as one of the six best teams in 2A.
North Kitsap squared off with Clarkston in a rematch of its regional game from a week ago, but the Vikings were nowhere near as sharp as they were on Friday against Fife. The Bantams prevailed with a 50-32 victory.
The Vikings ended the season with a 23-6 record and they are coming home from the Yakima SunDome with a sixth place trophy in tow.
“We can look at the bad, or we can look at the good,” said junior guard Kobe McMillian. “Honestly, for me, I’m just looking at the good right now and what we all accomplished and what we overcame. Everyone overlooked us.”
Those accomplishments include a fifth consecutive league championship (shared with Port Angeles), a third district championship in the past four years and another trip to the state tournament.
North Kitsap was hoping to capture fourth place with a victory over Clarkston, but the Bantams were the better team early and opened up a 15-5 margin in the first quarter, scoring the first nine points of the game. They only shot 38 percent for the game, but were an outstanding 15 for 17 from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, the Vikings struggled to get into any kind of offensive rhythm as it took them nearly five minutes to get on the board in the first quarter. They also struggled with turnovers, as they did in the loss to Renton two days earlier, and just generally looked out of sync in the 8 a.m. game.
“I just felt we weren’t very aggressive in the first half,” said head coach Scott Orness. “Being aggressive isn’t always attacking the rim, one guy trying to make things happen, but it’s making hard cuts, setting hard screens, attacking the glass and we were just kind of floating.”
The offense woke up a bit in the fourth quarter. Jonas La Tour hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and led North Kitsap with eight points. Shaa Humphrey added a pair of buckets as well and senior guard Roman Caizza, who rarely sees time on the floor, got into the game late and knocked down a 3-pointer to the delight of the North Kitsap crowd.
Fortunately, the story is far from over for this group. With ten players returning next year, including all five starters, and the pipeline of talent supplying more talented underclassmen, the opportunity is there to return to the SunDome next year and finish strong with a win on the last day.
“We came here for more, but the thing is we just didn’t follow through in that game with a lot of our game plan,” McMillian said. “We tried to shut down their guard and he had a pretty good game. But what I told the guys in the locker room is we had a great season and we can’t forget about any of that.”
Clarkston 50, North Kitsap 32
CN 15 5 9 21 — 50
NK 5 6 3 18 — 32
Clarkston (50) — Allen 14, Hagestad 13, Chatfield 10, Italia 7, Roueche 6.
North Kitsap (32) — La Tour 8, Humphrey 7, McMillian 7, Chmielewski 4, Caizza 3, Siebers 2, Olmsted 1.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.