The North Kitsap Vikings defeated the Port Angeles Roughriders 64-56 Jan. 3 in a matchup of two potential state-bound teams.
Before the last two free throws to ice the game, neither team led by more than six points the entire game.
In addition, the stars on each team canceled each other out with high-scoring performances. Tyler Hunter led PA with 23 points, but Harry Davies had 26 for the winners.
So, NK’s role players were the key factor to their home victory.
“Just play-by-play we had some guys doing some big things,” NK coach Scott Orness said. “Ethan Gillespie hitting those threes and our teammates trusting in him and running sets for him in the corner.”
Gillespie scored 10 points, with six coming in the fourth quarter to help the Vikings spark a late run.
Hunter nailed four points with a handful of minutes left to give PA a 48-44 lead. However, Gillespie nailed three-consecutive threes to give the Vikings leads of 50-49, 55-54 and 58-54.
“A lot of pressure is on Cade (Orness) and Harry (Davies), and both played a great game but those shots by Ethan were huge,” Orness said.
Mason Chmielewski played a big part in the win with his rebounding. The 5-foot-11 inch guard got double-digit rebounds over players who were 6-foot-5 and taller. He also scored seven points. Cade Orness added eight.
“Those guys need that confidence, and hopefully this game gave that to them,” coach Orness said. “Everyone has a new role this year after losing some big guns last year so those other guys stepping up in a game like this is really important for our playoff run.”
NK’s victory gives the Vikings a two-game lead over Port Angeles in the Olympic League and a better shot at the first seed in the district tournament.