Down by a point to Bainbridge late in the fourth quarter, freshman Cade Orness made an errant pass for a turnover. After a foul and two successful free throw attempts, Orness got a chance at redemption and didn’t miss.
With 10.1 seconds to go, North Kitsap brought the ball up the court. Knowing the Vikings needed a 3-pointer to tie it, the Spartans defense crowded the arch. Johny Olmsted handed it off to Orness and with a hand in his face, his shot hit nothing but net to tie the game at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
“I saw Johny have two guys collapse on him, and I just had to come in for the hand-off, and he made a great pass,” Orness said. “Then I just threw up a prayer, pretty much.”
Time froze as the players watched the ball’s path. As it went through the hoop, the previously raucous crowd at Paski Gym went silent.
“When the buzzer rang, I didn’t know it was going in,” Orness said. “It was quiet, and we all went crazy.”
In a game that had a championship atmosphere, both teams were prone to mistakes, but were always able to rise above them.
“We use a term in our program called ‘spiking,’” coach Scott Orness said. “Cade, especially a freshman, could have just hung his head and pouted, but he spiked. He made a big play, and he got his team another chance to go out and win in overtime, so I’m super proud of Cade tonight, and the poise he had.”
The seesaw affair continued in the extra session. Jacob Kirsch gave Bainbridge a 59-57, but Jonas La Tour forced a turnover and then got down the court to hit a layup on the other end. Olmsted hit a long jumper to give North Kitsap the lead, and La Tour’s turnaround shot extended it to four.
Bainbridge wasn’t done yet, though. Alan Ulin fought his way to the hoop to grab a rebound and score on a put-back. Ulin was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to cut the deficit to one. On the next possession, Ulin found Luke Lavigne on a back-door play to put the Spartans back ahead 64-63.
But the Vikings were aggressive getting down the floor as Olmsted hit La Tour on a long pass that gave him an open lane to the hoop. La Tour buried it for the go-ahead bucket with five seconds left in overtime.
“We were able to go off a made basket,” coach Orness said. “A lot of teams will just dilly-dally and get the ball in. We want to rip it out of the net. Johny was available and hit [Jonas] right up the sideline, and it was one or two dribbles.”
The Spartans got one last possession, but the desperation shot fell shor, sending North Kitsap on to the Olympic League championship game.
“Obviously, I’m not happy to be on the losing side of it, especially for my seniors,” Bainbridge coach Steven Haizlip said. “But it was an unbelievable game. When you go through COVID and not playing for fourteen months – to be able to play in a game like that with the crowd, honestly, I hope they remember that forever.”
La Tour led North Kitsap with 27 points and 12 rebounds and was a dominant figure in overtime, picking up six of the Vikings’ nine points. Olmsted chipped in 15 points, and Cade Orness added 13.
For Bainbridge, Andrew Ward tallied 23 points and Ulin was a strong physical presence in the paint, picking up 15 points, mostly on hard drives to the hoop. Cliff Hennessey hit a couple of key baskets, especially his 3-pointer just before the end of the third quarter that gave Bainbridge a 41-40 lead. Hennessey finished with 12 points.
“I would play twenty of those games a year,” coach Orness said. “That’s how our kids get better and develop. I would love to see Bainbridge back in the Olympic League next year, for sure.”
The season isn’t over for the Spartans as they will face Central Kitsap in the league’s third place game Wednesday. Bainbridge beat the Cougars 76-44 earlier in the season.
“This is a special group of seniors,” Haizlip said. “I have four seniors on this team that I absolutely love coaching, and I’m cherishing every moment with them. They’re setting a real high standard for Bainbridge basketball.”
Meanwhile, North Kitsap will head to Port Angeles for the title game. The two teams split their regular season games, with the Roughriders prevailing 70-60 over the Vikings just four days prior to Monday’s victory.
“We’re very excited,” Cade Orness said. “Last time, they played well, they beat us, but we’re be ready.”
North Kitsap 65, Bainbridge 64 (OT)
NK 14 17 9 16 9 — 65
BI 10 18 13 15 8 — 64
North Kitsap (65) — La Tour 27, Olmsted 15, Orness 13, Brockett 5, Hager 2, Ryan 2, Bower 1.