POULSBO — Round one goes to North Kitsap.
In a showdown between the top two Olympic League teams, the Vikings dominated both ends of the floor in a 63-43 victory over Olympic on Dec. 12.
Kai Warren led North Kitsap with a game-high 17 points and the offense was humming throughout the contest, but what stood out more was the way players such as Ryan Hecker, Shaa Humphrey and Derek Zinn helped shut down Olympic’s top scorers.
“I was really impressed by how our guys rose to this occassion,” North Kitsap head coach Scott Orness said. “We lost seven seniors last year and you never know how a group is going to respond in a big game situation. From the tip, they knew every possession was important and we took care of things on the defensive end.”
The Olympic offense struggled to get to the basket, and rarely got a second chance thanks to the rebounding of Warren and Humphrey. Top offensive players such as Jaiden Mosley, Evan Turnquist and Keaton Dean were held in check — the trio combined for just five points in the first quarter. Junior post Caleb Morgan had the hot hand early for the Trojans, scoring six points.
“They were doing a really good job getting us one and done,” Olympic head coach Devin Huff said. “We didn’t really have a presence on the offensive glass in any way, shape or form.”
Meanwhile, the reigning Olympic League Most Valuable Player, North Kitsap’s Zac Olmstead, powered the offense to an early advantage. The senior point guard scored seven of his 13 points in the first quarter and distributed the ball well to his teammates as the Vikings opened up an 18-11 lead after one quarter.
The Trojans were able to right the ship offensively in the second quarter, but with Warren and junior guard Connor King — who finished third on the team with 12 points — unstoppable from the outside, Olympic could not draw any closer. King sank a total of four 3-pointers in the game.
“It was closer than the score indicated, they battled the whole game,” Olmstead said. “We came in with a great game plan, coach had us ready to go and we came with the energy.”
With both teams eyeing a return to the 2A state tournament at the Yakima Valley SunDome — where Olympic finished fifth and North Kitsap took home sixth a year ago — the early season matchup served as a measuring stick.
After the game, Huff said that despite a good practice and film session the day prior, “a lot of what we worked on was not evident tonight.” Huff expected the team to be better prepared for their next matchup with North Kitsap on Jan. 12.
“[North Kitsap] obviously played extremely well,” Huff said. “They’re long and athletic. I think that poses some matchup problems for us.”
For North Kitsap, it was the first major test passed on the road back to states. Physical teams such as Olympic have been difficult to handle for the Vikings in the past, but that was not the case on Tuesday.
“Normally we’re on our heels with that, but we matched their physicality tonight,” Orness said.
North Kitsap 63, Olympic 43
OLY 11 17 9 6 — 43
NK 18 20 12 13 — 63
Olympic (43) — Mosley 12, Morgan 9, Landis 5, Barron 4, Dean 4, White 3, Dower 3, Turnquist 2, Brehmer 1.