POULSBO — For about three minutes of Monday night’s non-league matchup with 3A Central Kitsap, the Vikings struggled from the floor.
That all changed when Kobe McMillian came to the rescue, knocking down three consecutive baskets to bring a raucous crowd clad in purple and gold to life.
McMillian was a scorching 12-for-18 on his field goal attempts for a game-high 29 points. The rest of his team followed suit and North Kitsap (7-0, 13-2) scored an impressive victory, 77-53, over a quick, athletic Cougars squad.
The junior guard has been a little quieter than usual in recent games, but he roared to life when his team needed him most.
“The last couple of games I have been struggling, but I had the confidence to shoot it,” McMillian said. I just caught fire and there was no holding me back from there.”
There were also plenty of solid supporting performances to be found. Bobby Siebers added 15 points, and looked fearless driving to the rim all night; Shaa Humphrey had 12 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists and Logan Chmielewski chipped in 10 points and 13 boards.
McMillian and Siebers combined for 20 of the team’s 23 points in the second quarter and sinking 9 buckets out of 11 attempts. Their hot shooting helped the Vikings to a 39-26 halftime lead. McMillian had 22 by that point.
“We knew tonight against their zone there were going to be times where we had to shoot with confidence,” head coach Scott Orness said. “So they had the green light to go tonight and they knocked down some big shots.”
Central Kitsap (4-4, 8-6) certainly had its moments of magic, but they were too few and far between. Four players scored in double-digits — Colby White had a team-high 13, Austin McMinds scored 11 and Owen Davies and Elijah McGee each had 10 — but the Cougars simply could not keep up with North Kitsap’s torrid offensive pace.
Chmielewski scored all 10 of his points in the third and fourth quarter and brought great energy to the floor. Humphrey had one of his best all-around games in getting close to a triple-double and Johny Olmsted hit some big baskets while running showing a clear comfort with running the offense. Olmsted finished with 9 points.
“We’re really starting to jell now,” Orness said.
The Vikings are flying high heading into Friday’s showdown on the Olympic Peninsula, as is their opponent, Port Angeles. The two teams are separated by one game and a North Kitsap win puts the team in the driver’s seat for the league title.
These two teams last met on Dec. 18 and the contest resulted in a 58-54 win for the Vikings. McMillian hit a long 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in regulation to break the deadlock.
“They’re a big challenge and they’re playing really good basketball right now,” Orness said.
North Kitsap 77, Central Kitsap 53
CK 16 10 16 11 — 53
NK 16 23 20 18 — 77
Central Kitsap (53) — White 13, McMinds 11, Davies 10, McGee 10, LaBow 3, Massey 2, Tower 2, Zetty 2.