Kingston point guard Chris Russell was one of three players to finish in double-figures for the Bucs. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kingston point guard Chris Russell was one of three players to finish in double-figures for the Bucs. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kingston falls to North Mason at the buzzer, 51-50

KINGSTON — The Bucs opened well with a 7-2 run against North Mason in a home league contest on Tuesday night and ended up leading the game for 31 minutes and 59 seconds.

Unfortunately, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the key by Miller Campbell in the final second propelled the Bulldogs to a 51-50 win over Kingston.

The loss dropped the Bucs to 0-5 on the season, but as coach Henry Guterson pointed out after the game, their record does not reflect how well they have played. Three of their five losses have come by just a single point — they fell to Klahowya 45-44 on Dec. 6 and Sequim, 49-48, on Dec. 11. Only 3A Bainbridge and Olympic League power Port Angeles have beaten them by comfortable margins.

“My hope is that we don’t dwell on that,” said Guterson, who was happy with his team’s effort following the game.

“We gave it our all,” the coach added. “I don’t feel like we left anything on the court.”

Tuesday night’s game was close the whole way. The Bucs led 15-8 after one quarter and generally held that margin until North Mason began chipping away in the fourth quarter.

Orlando Chiquiti, who scored a game-high 16 points, scored a basket on a put-back to give Kingston a 49-45 lead with 41 seconds left. The Bulldogs began to foul in order to put the Bucs on the free throw line and get the ball back. After a miss on the front end of a 1 and 1, Ethan Collins sank a 3-pointer from the right wing to pull North Mason within a point.

After another foul with ten seconds left, Zach Mead hit the front end of a 1 and 1, but missed the second and North Mason rebounded the ball and moved quickly down court to open up a final shot. Campbell finally got loose at the top of the key and buried it to win the game.

It was an unfortunate ending to a game that saw several of Kingston’s young, up-and-coming players put forth solid efforts.

Chiquiti’s 16-point night was powered by a 4-for-6 performance from beyond the arc. Point guard Chris Russell scored 11 points and shot 4-for-7 from the field. Kingston Trichler also chipped in 11 and Dylan Baze was a force in the paint, scoring nine and adding nine rebounds.

“We’re young, we don’t start any seniors and we have some really good pieces,” Guterson said. “It’s just about putting it all together and getting better at the season progresses.”

But the Bulldogs out-shot the Bucs in the fourth quarter and were a little better on the glass, particularly after Baze fouled out midway through the final frame, giving them a few extra second chances.

“It’s a game of inches,” Guterson said. “You have to fight for every inch in a game like this. Those little things can add up.”

Kingston will have the chance to rebound Friday with an away game against Bremerton in what should be a crucial league match. The Olympic League is wide open after North Kitsap and Port Angeles, which are expected to finish in the top two. The rest of the playoffs spots are seemingly up for grabs.

North Mason 51, Kingston 50

NM 8 9 14 20 — 51

KN 15 10 12 13 — 50

North Mason (51) — Campbell 14, Crookshank 12, Collins 12, Betancourt 6, Williams 5, Beattie 2.

Kingston (50) — Chiquiti 16, Russell 11, Trichler 11, Baze 9, Mead 3.

Kingston point guard Chris Russell was one of three players to finish in double-figures for the Bucs. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Kingston point guard Chris Russell was one of three players to finish in double-figures for the Bucs. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)