POULSBO — North Kitsap head coach Scott Orness had to challenge his team at halftime in their Olympic League opener against Bremerton.
The Vikings had been content to sit back and shoot from beyond the arc in the first half, and they led the Knights 34-27 as they headed into the locker rooms, but Orness wanted his team to go to the rim more against their smaller opponent.
The players responded, scoring 26 points in the third quarter and playing a tougher, more physical brand of basketball as North Kitsap cruised to a 77-47 victory.
“If you want to win, you have to put pressure on the basket,” Orness said.
Junior wing Shaa Humphrey came out and scored the first three field goals of the second half by doing just that. He finished the game with 18 points.
Kobe McMillian, another junior, had another big night for the Vikings, scoring a game-high 22 points. He and freshman Johny Olmsted have made for a solid backcourt combination so far this season. Olmsted has taken on the role of point guard from his older brother Zac, the reigning Olympic League most valuable player who now plays in college, allowing McMillian more freedom to score.
“We just need to get into our offense, and he’s doing a good job,” Orness said of the younger Olmsted.
The Knights hung in there early. Caleb Washington and Kaleb Peterson scored six points apiece in the second quarter to help keep the game close. But once the Vikings got rolling, their defense followed suit and allowed fewer of the easy layups they had allowed the Knights to get in the first half. Kimo Retome led Bremerton with 11 points.
With a 61-36 lead after three, the starters ceded the spotlight to some of the younger players. North Kitsap got a glimpse into its future as its four talented freshmen — Olmsted, Bobby Siebers, Aiden Olmstead and Jonas La Tour — were all on the floor together for the final few minutes.
All four freshmen made an impact on the score sheet as well, led by Siebers who finished in double figures with 11.
“I wanted to put them in there, let them go a little bit,” Orness said. “All four of those guys can play and they’re real fearless.”
The Vikings get their first big Olympic League challenge on Tuesday, Dec. 11 when they host Port Angeles. The Roughriders are the favorite to finish atop the standings, so the contest should give North Kitsap an idea of where it stands going forward.
“I think they’re the team to beat this year and we’ve definitely got a challenge ahead of us,” Orness said.
North Kitsap 77, Bremerton 47
BR 10 17 9 11 — 47
NK 18 18 25 16 — 77
Bremerton (47) — K. Retome 11, Washington 8, Jackmon 7, Laguana 7, Peterson 7, Wilson 3, Logova 2, McMartin 1.
North Kitsap (77) — McMillian 22, Humphrey 18, Siebers 11, Chmielewski 9, La Tour 5, Olmsted 5, Baker 3, Moore 2, Olmstead 2.