TACOMA — The third time wasn’t the charm for North Kitsap against Port Angeles. Unfortunately, neither was the fourth.
Trailing by one point in the waning moments of the game, the Vikings got two chances at a basket that would seal the victory, but neither shot fell. The 37-36 loss to the Roughriders sends North Kitsap on to the third-place game.
Raelee Moore’s shot with just a few seconds remaining bounced off the rim. As players from both teams fought for the loose ball, a jump ball was called, giving North Kitsap possession and another chance to win the game. Head coach Penny Gienger called a timeout to draw up the play, but on the inbound, the second timeout warning horn went off, temporarily freezing the players on the court.
Gienger said after the game that her team had essentially already run their play, tipping their hand to the defense. The Vikings got the chance to reset, and Olivia Selembo got off a shot from a difficult angle, but it wouldn’t go.
Though unhappy with the unusual turn of events, Gienger noted they had put themselves in a position to win the game. “We had two layups with two of the people I would choose to shoot them,” Gienger said.
It was a bizarre ending to a tough, defensive slog that saw both teams work, sweat and grind hard for every single basket.
The Vikings found themselves down six in the fourth quarter, when Selembo slashed her way to the basket for a layup. On the next possession, she drove the lane again and was fouled. The senior guard converted one of her freethrows, and although she missed the second, Erin Pearson was able to pry loose the rebound to give the Vikings another possession. Point guard Lauren Weins stepped up and buried a 3-pointer from the wing to tie the game.
“My kids played tough, I mean, [Port Angeles head coach Mike Poindexter] just kept throwing people at us,” Gienger said.
Pearson gave North Kitsap a 36-34 lead, cleaning up a missed shot with a put back, but on the Riders’ next trip down the court, Devin Edwards found herself wide open at the top of the key and hit the 3-pointer that would win the game.
The Vikings played well in spurts, opening up a 9-2 lead to start the game and clawing back from a five-point deficit to go on a 10-0 run in the second quarter, but once again the Port Angeles defense stymied the Vikings for much of the game.
Gienger said the Roughriders are “very unique in what they do,” both in terms of their defensive schemes and the fact that they rotate ten different players throughout the game, which keeps everyone fresh and wears down the opponent.
“They’re so fast getting into the passing lanes, just their hands getting up there and they’re all hustling on defense,” Weins said.
Ultimately, the loss does not harm North Kitsap’s future playoff aspirations — they were already guaranteed a spot in the regional round by virtue of its 51-48 victory over Renton. North Kitsap will play Fife on Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m. at Washington High School in Tacoma.
Port Angeles 37, North Kitsap 36
NK 10 6 10 10 — 36
PA 6 11 7 13 — 37
North Kitsap (36) — Selembo 10, Barreith 7, Moore 6, Pearson 6, Johnson 4, Weins 3.
Port Angeles (37) — E. Long 14, Wheeler 6, Edwards 5, Brady 3, G. Long 3, Cooke 2, Steinman 2, Politika 2.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@soundpub lishing.com.