YAKIMA — Sometimes the journey ends a little earlier than expected.
North Kitsap drew a first round matchup against a tall, long, physical William F. West team in the first round of the state tournament at the Yakima SunDome. And after a wild finish, it was the Vikings that would head home, dropping the game 60-59 in overtime.
The numbers tell the story. Rebounding has been a weak spot for the Vikings this season and the Bearcats — led by a roster that boasted five players listed at 6 feet 2 inches or taller — outrebounded them 39-23, which helped W.F. West attempt 10 more field goals and 10 more free throws than North Kitsap. As the game wore on, the Vikings also had trouble creating offensive opportunities, finding themselves moving the ball around the perimeter until the threat of the shot clock reaching zero forced them to put up an oftentimes contested shot.
“We had three rules —two of them were ‘rebound like your life depends on it’ — we didn’t do that in the second half — and the second rule was to outwork and out-scrap them. And in the third quarter, they punched us in the face and it was the first time all year we didn’t respond very well,” head coach Scott Orness said.
Zac Olmsted hit both ends of a one-and-one with 11.7 seconds left to put the Vikings up three. They allowed the Bearcats’ Jordan Thomas to take the layup to cut the deficit to one. A successful inbound pass would have likely resulted in a foul, which would have put a Viking back on the free throw line. But Ryan Hecker’s inbound sailed just out of the reach of Shaa Humphrey and out of bounds at the sideline, giving the Bearcats life.
On the next possession, Thomas was fouled. He missed the first free throw, but hit the second, tying the game at 57 and sending it to overtime.
“It was a really tough possession, plain and simple,” Orness said. “Ryan’s been great for us all year long and all three years I’ve been there. He’s one of the toughest and most competitive kids I’ve been around. I’d put him on the baseline again with the ball in his hands.”
Hecker got his redemption in the extra session as he slashed his way to the basket, drawing a foul and hitting both free throws to tie the game at 59 with just a few seconds left. On what turned out to be the Bearcats’ final possession, Thomas once again drew a foul and hit one of his free throws, giving his team a one-point lead. A Hail Mary attempt fell short and the Vikings’ season was over.
It was a distant memory by the end of the game, but North Kitsap jumped out to a 14-point lead thanks to a dominant second quarter. Kai Warren scored eight of his 12 points in that stanza, and Olmsted scored six and finished with 10 overall.
Connor King was North Kitsap’s leading scorer with 14, which included a 4-of-6 performance from the 3-point line.
But the Bearcats crept back into the game. Brandon White scored a game-high 18 points, including 12 in the third quarter. The 6 feet 8 inch forward was comfortable both in the paint and on the perimeter and presented a difficult matchup for the Vikings.
“It’s too bad to have a game like that to end the season because I can’t really think of a game where we’ve gotten outworked,” Orness said. “I think it was plain and simple, in the second half we got outworked.”
After the game, Orness stressed to his team that this final game should define how they remember the season. Orness said this year was one of his favorites as a coach, calling the team “one of the most athletic” North Kitsap has ever had.
“I think that we put North Kitsap High School on the map,” Olmsted said. “We showed that these last two years weren’t a fluke.”
W.F. West 60, North Kitsap 59 (OT)
North Kitsap 9 25 11 12 2 – 59
W.F. West 10 10 22 15 3 – 60
North Kitsap (59) – King 14, Warren 12, Humphrey 10, Olmsted 10, Hecker 6, Chmielewski 4, Zinn 3.
W.F. West (60) – B. White 18, Thomas 16, Cooper 10, Speck 6, Dobyns 5, C. White 4, Wollan 1.