<em>Junior guard Noelani Barreith led North Kitsap with 11 points against Black Hills in the team’s home opener.</em>
                                Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group

Junior guard Noelani Barreith led North Kitsap with 11 points against Black Hills in the team’s home opener. Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group

North Kitsap grinds through a tough early season schedule

POULSBO — The North Kitsap girls basketball team hasn’t shied away from a tough early season slate despite having so many new faces on varsity.

The Vikings opened the year with a 67-17 win over Stadium, but then took on Archbishop Murphy, which reached the 2A state championship and finished second, and Black Hills, last year’s fourth place team. The results have been unsurprising; with Tuesday evening’s 71-59 loss to Bainbridge, North Kitsap was 1-3 heading into its league opener Wednesday against Bremerton, a 66-19 win that improved its record to 2-3.

“It’s definitely a tough schedule right now,” head coach Penny Gienger said. “We’re in a grind right now. It’s pushing our kids a little bit.”

The players responded well after a 53-18 loss to Archbishop Murphy, a tough, physical game in which one bad quarter made the result look far worse than the performance, with a better showing against a talented Black Hills team in their home opener on Dec. 1.

Junior guard Noelani Barreith led North Kitsap with 11 points and Raelee Moore and Grace Johnson each added 7 in a 46-37 defeat.

After a slow offensive start, the Vikings trailed by just 2 at halftime and were tied at 35 heading into the fourth quarter. They took their first lead of the game, 33-31, when senior Julia Tweiten came off the bench and buried a 3-pointer for her only basket of the game.

It was clear that with all of the new players on the team, Gienger was tinkering with her lineup. Ten players on the roster saw the floor against Black Hills in various combinations.

“Part of it is just trying to find the pieces that fit right, we’re still trying different players,” Gienger said.

But no matter who was out there, the defense also held up well despite the presence of 6-foot 1-inch forward Maisy Williams, who led Black Hills with 17 points and slick point guard Megan River, who added 13. Black Hills was a dominant offensive team in the Evergreen Conference last year, scoring nearly 60 points per game and finishing second to state champion W.F. West.

Next week’s schedule doesn’t get any easier for North Kitsap. The team has a road game in Port Angeles on Tuesday, Dec. 11, followed by a home game against Olympic on Dec. 14. The race for a league title should be crowded this year, but Port Angeles and Olympic are both teams that are expected to be near the top.

“We’ll keep at it and we’ll be ready for league,” Gienger said.

Black Hills 47, North Kitsap 39

BH 14 5 16 12 — 47

NK 7 10 18 4 — 39

Black Hills (47) — Williams 17, River 13, Bovenkamp 10, Greenfield 4, S. Lee 3.

North Kitsap (39) — Barreith 11, Johnson 7, Moore 7, Tucker 5, Komar 3, Tweiten 3, Goetz 2, Pruden 1.

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