YAKIMA — The Vikings made some uncharacteristic mistakes in their first round state tournament game and their opponent made them pay.
North Kitsap (22-5) committed 20 turnovers in the matchup with Renton and started cold from the floor, which allowed Renton to get out to an early lead. The Vikings could not find a way to catch up, as they trailed the Indians most of the way in a 56-51 loss.
Their run at the Yakima SunDome is not over, but it is gut check time for a team that has played extremely well all season long.
“We have to come here with a purpose and not just be satisfied we’re here,” said junior Shaa Humphrey, the only starter from last year’s state-qualifying team. “We’ve got to try to come home with some hardware.”
The Vikings had their chances down the stretch. A 3-pointer from the right wing by Bobby Siebers cut the lead to 51-48, but the big run never came and a few too many miscues in important moments ended up hurting them. It was always two steps forward, one step back.
Jonas La Tour was a highlight for North Kitsap, coming off the bench with a 4 for 7 shooting performance from the beyond the arc. He led the team with 14 points. Humphrey added 12 and Kobe McMillian chipped in 9.
“I knew they were going to zone us and Jonas can shoot the ball,” said head coach Scott Orness. “I knew he might have an opportuntiy to go in, we needed a scorer in that baseline spot.”
But a quick Renton (21-8) defense put North Kitsap, which hadn’t played a game in the five prior days, out of rhythm early. Their guards swarmed the perimeter and contested every possession while 7-foot center Jason Bowen loomed in the middle. On the other end, Renton also managed 14 offensive rebounds, giving its top players plenty of chances to score the basketball. The Indians’ talented guards Damarco Williams and O’Shae Barquet scored 25 and 16 points respectively.
“We didn’t keep them off the glass, that killed us,” Orness said.
North Kitsap returns to the court at 10:30 a.m. on Friday to face the No. 9 seed, Fife. These two teams did not meet in the West Central District III tournament, but did face off at the Sterling Christmas Shootout. North Kitsap prevailed 56-52.
The players are expected to gather late Thursday evening to rally and regroup for their elimination game.
“It’s them deciding how they want to finish their experience here in Yakima,” Orness said.
Renton 56, North Kitsap 51
RN 12 12 18 14 — 56
NK 9 11 11 20 — 51
Renton (56) — Williams 25, Barquet 16, Jackson 7, Meneese 4, Bowen 2, Johnson 1, Little 1.
North Kitsap (51) — La Tour 14, Humphrey 12, McMillian 9, Siebers 7, Chmielewski 4, Moore 3, Olmsted 2.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.