POULSBO — Kobe McMillian picked the perfect time to come alive against Port Angeles.
The junior guard had struggled throughout much of the first half, having a single field goal to his credit. But in a tight game late in the fourth quarter, he came up huge for his team.
McMillian drilled a long 3-pointer from well beyond the arc with 12 seconds left to give North Kitsap a 57-54 lead. On the ensuing possession, with the Vikings out defending the perimeter, McMillian came up with a steal at the top of the key. He was quickly fouled with 1.6 seconds to go, hit one of his free throws and iced the victory.
“I was struggling a lot in the first half. I was turning it over,” said McMillian, who scored 8 of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. “But I just said to myself that even if I have a bad game, it’s just one bad game. I have to keep playing hard.”
The Vikings’ 58-54 triumph at home on Dec. 11 certainly didn’t come easy. The Roughriders came out firing on all cylinders, scoring the first 7 points of the game and firing home 3-pointers with ease, hitting four in the first quarter alone.
After head coach Scott Orness called an early timeout, junior wing Shaa Humphrey picked up his game considerably, leading the comeback charge by example with his energy and physical ability. He became a force at both ends of the court and ultimately scored a game-high 22 points.
If North Kitsap is going to have sustained success this season, Humphrey will have to be the center of attention — and he knows it.
“Last year, I had Kai [Warren] and Zac [Olmsted] to pick up the slack,” Humphrey said. “But this year I have to make sure I’m going in every game, defensively and offensively.”
The Vikings took a 4-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Port Angeles was far from finished. An early 8-3 run gave the Riders a 50-49 advantage midway through the fourth quarter, and the game was tied at 54 with 1:33 to play.
North Kitsap received solid contributions off the bench from freshman Bobby Siebers and senior Grant Baker, who finished with ten and nine points respectively.
“We just gave up a few too many outside 3s in the first half,” Orness said. “Our game was plan was to stay on their hip and we didn’t do that. They’re a good team, they’re going to capitalize on that.”
The victory was nothing short of a huge confidence boost for a squad that features just two seniors this season. Port Angeles is considered the favorite to win the Olympic League championship, but Tuesday’s win now puts North Kitsap into that conversation. The team will try to continue the moment with a Friday, Dec. 14 matchup at Olympic.
“We’re just out here trying to prove that we can play even though we’re young, so it means a lot,” Humphrey said.
North Kitsap 58, Port Angeles 54
PA 16 16 10 12 — 54
NK 11 16 19 12 — 58
Port Angeles (54) — Benedict 14, Schmidt 12, Edwards 9, Long 9, Clark 5, Johnson 5.
North Kitsap (58) — Humphrey 22, McMillian 10, Siebers 10, Baker 9, Chmielewski 5, Moore 2.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.