PUYALLUP — He’s rarely among North Kitsap’s leading scorers, but freshman Johny Olmsted may have hit the biggest shot of his team’s season so far.
Leading by four, with an inbound pass coming from deep in their own defensive half and just three seconds left on the shot clock, Olmsted got as far as he could up court and let go of a prayer. His 35-footer banked off the backboard and went in, turning the tide of the game back in the Vikings’ favor.
North Kitsap (22-4) went on to defeat Clarkston, 59-51, to bypass the first round of the state tournament and head straight to the quarterfinals. The state tournament begins Feb. 27 at the Yakima SunDome.
“That was huge,” head coach Scott Orness said. “That was the shot heard ‘round 2A.”
The Bantams, riding a 13-game winning streak entering Friday’s game, had steadily closed a 15-point gap over the course of about eight minutes between the third and fourth quarter. To make matters worse, forwards Shaa Humphrey, Logan Chmielewski and Jamo Moore were each playing with four fouls, forcing the Vikings to switch up their defense to keep their best players in the game.
“It was definitely a different defense because we were running man the whole time,” Olmsted said. “I think we handled it well and finished off the game.”
But after Olmsted’s long 3-pointer, Clarkston had to begin fouling intentionally instead. The Vikings went 8 for 10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to maintain their lead and close out the win.
Humphrey led the way offensively with a game-high 20 points. He was a big part of a 15-4 run in the third quarter that pushed North Kitsap out to a 44-29 lead and was once again as cool as ice from the charity stripe, hitting five of six attempts in the final minute of the game.
Bobby Siebers went 3 of 6 from the 3-point line and finished the game with 11 points and Kobe McMillian chipped in 10. Olmsted added 9 points and put the clamps down on Clarkston’s Division I prospect Tru Allen.
North Kitsap’s first state game is at 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 28. Renton will play the loser of the Pullman-Burlington Edison regional game on Feb. 27 for the chance to face the Vikings.
The Vikings now only need one win at the state tournament to play for a top six finish, something last year’s talented, experience-laden team did not accomplish. But as Orness has often said this season, the Vikings continue to find ways to win ball games against tough opponents.
“We didn’t know where we were going to be to start the season and now we’re sitting in the quarterfinals,” Orness said.
North Kitsap 59, Clarkston 51
CN 11 9 15 16 — 51
NK 12 15 17 15 — 59
Clarkston (51) — Hagestad 19, Chatfield 16, Allen 10, Italia 4, Roueche 2.
North Kitsap (59) — Humphrey 20, Siebers 11, McMillian 10, Olmsted 9, Chmielewski 5, Moore 4.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.