The North Kitsap Vikings qualified for the state playoffs after finishing fourth in the district tournament, winning one game and losing two.
The Vikings faced Sammamish Feb. 18, losing 73-64. The Vikings came out cold, trailing Sammamish 16-2 after the first quarter. Cade Orness’ midrange game began to click and the Vikings crept back in the game.
However, the Vikings trailed 32-21 at halftime as Sammamish began to drain three-pointers to end the half.
Harry Davies began to run the Viking offense in the second half, scoring twenty points before the fourth quarter. Although the Vikings’ offense scored twenty points in the third quarter, Sammamish matched it and continued to lead 52-41.
Sammamish continued to pour threes in the fourth quarter. Davies led with 29 points and Orness finished with 15 points, 6 assists and 9 rebounds. The Vikings will return for the opening round of state championships on either Feb. 24 or 25.
The Vikings fell in the semifinals to Enumclaw 56-49 on Feb. 17 at a neutral site.
North Kitsap was sluggish in the first quarter after the game was delayed due to the referees showing up late. Therefore, Enumclaw took a 13-8 lead after one quarter, the new lowest first quarter for the Vikings.
The Vikings tried to claw back into the game, trailing only 20-14 through halfway in the second quarter. Yet, the Hornets kept the Vikings away, taking a 29-22 lead into halftime. North Kitsap’s offense continued to struggle, scoring only 29 points in three quarters.
On the other hand, Enumclaw led with 37 points. The game looked to be over until North Kitsap went on a late run. The Vikings saw themselves only trailing by six points with six minutes left. However, Enumclaw scored sixteen more points and took the 56-49 victory.
This year’s North Kitsap boys basketball team lacks playoff experience and hadn’t played in two weeks so the Vikings looked a little rusty in the first half against Clover Park Feb. 15.
“There were definitely some playoff jitters,” coach Scott Orness said. “I am glad we had this one at home. We got a lot of new guys who are learning how to step up in these big games. Even (two players with playoff experience) Cade [Orness] and Harry [Davies] have different roles in a game like this.”
But the Vikings rediscovered themselves to win 60-44. “The thing that has been a staple of ours all season long is our defense,” Orness said. “We know our offense will come and go but we got to be able to stick with our defense.”
It seemed like the offense was going to click early when Davies scored a layup off of Orness’ tip pass. However, the Vikings failed to score another basket for nearly six minutes. Yet, they only trailed 7-4 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
Davies picked up a few more baskets, and Orness finished the quarter with a jump shot to make it 10-9, their lowest-scoring first quarter this season.
While the offense struggled, Mason Chmielewski led the defense. He didn’t score in the first half, but he forced several turnovers and dominated the boards. “Every 50/50 ball, Mason gets it,” Orness said. “He has such a nose for it and has been our glue guy this year. We can count on his effort all the time. It’s been an inspiration to these other guys.”
Davies and Orness began to roll toward the end of the first half and gave the Vikings a 23-16 lead.
Both teams began to find their rhythm in the third quarter on offense. Clover Park’s Marcel Hurst drove down the lane ferociously, scoring several buckets around the rim. However, Ethan Gillespie responded with a few corner threes.
But NK continued to be tested in the paint against the bigger squad. “We have seen it against Lynden and Auburn, that we have a certain toughness to us,” Orness said. “But we have other games where we don’t see it right away. We need to be consistent every game if we want a chance to bring home a trophy.”