POULSBO — Friday night’s matchup between Bremerton and North Kitsap arrived with a little extra juice after the Knights had knocked off Port Angeles the previous week, but once again, the Vikings deflated their opponent early.
North Kitsap (5-1, 12-2), currently No. 3 in the WIAA RPI rankings, opened the game on a 17-2 run thanks to some big baskets in transition and a defense that forced plenty of turnovers. The Knights never recovered and North Kitsap cruised to an 84-55 victory to set up a showdown with Port Angeles at home next Friday night.
Kobe McMillian scored a team-high 19 points, getting 11 of them in the first quarter and providing the spark to the big early run.
“We’re just really confident at home,” McMillian said. “You saw the crowd, the town, the energy; we just felt that. It was definitely easy for us to come in here and be comfortable in our home.”
As has typically been the case, the Vikings were able to get plenty of contributions from up and down the lineup. Six different players scored at least nine points and ten out of the 13 rostered players scored at least one.
But their style was markedly different this time around. The Vikings relied much more on getting to the basket and getting second and third chances on the offensive glass.
Logan Chmielewski was a shining example of that; he had a solid all-around game and scored 12 points, which included connecting on four of his six free throw attempts. Shaa Humphrey and Jonas La Tour each chipped in 11, and Aiden Olmstead had nine points — as did Johny Olmsted, who closed the first half with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the right wing.
“One of our goals today was to dominate the paint,” said North Kitsap head coach Scott Orness. “Logan, Shaa and Aiden especially — offensive rebounds, extra opportunities — took care of it. I just didn’t want us to settle for shooting threes.”
The defense, on the other hand, made a big improvement over the first time these two teams met. North Kitsap held Bremerton to just 18 points in the first half. Despite missing three days of practice due to snow-induced school closures, the coaches gave the team plenty of homework. The players studied up on Bremerton’s sets and were able to get some court time in on their own at the YMCA.
“I thought we did a good job of making some adjustments from the last time we played them,” Orness said.
Bremerton (5-2, 9-4) were able to get on track offensively in the second half. Kanye Taylor scored a game-high 22 points for the Knights and Kimo Retome sank four consecutive field goal attempts in the fourth quarter, but it was far too late to make up such a large deficit.
North Kitsap can take sole control of first place next Friday night in Poulsbo. The Roughriders got the better of them up in Port Angeles last month as they chipped away at a 20 point lead and eventually beat the Vikings, 65-64.
“I’m excited,” McMillian said. “Round two, here we go. I’m ready.”
Meanwhile, the Knights simply have to get back to business as they did after their first loss to North Kitsap. The team rebounded nicely and went on to beat Olympic, Sequim, Kingston, North Mason and Port Angeles in succession to put them on the right track toward a spot in the district playoffs. A repeat of that gives them the possibility of playing for either second place or a three-way tie for first in the regular season finale at Port Angeles on Feb. 4.
“This doesn’t define our season,” said Knights head coach Miah Davis. “The season’s not over, we’re just getting started. We have to prepare ourselves for these next two home games and then see what happens after that. We’re thinking about playoffs and we’re preparing mentally.”
North Kitsap 84, Bremerton 55
Brem 7 11 12 19 — 55
NK 24 13 27 19 — 84
Bremerton (55) — Taylor 22, Ki. Retome 10, Moore 7, Washington 7, Jackmon 5, Ka. Retome 2, Wilson 2.
North Kitsap (84) — McMillian 19, Chmielewski 12, Humphrey 11, La Tour 11, Olmstead 9, Olmsted 9, Miller 6, Ryan 3, Bower 2, Johnson 2.