POULSBO — While most Kitsap basketball teams did not begin their schedule until after Thanksgiving weekend, an early winter season game found North Kitsap in good form, defeating Central Kitsap, 59-41 on Nov. 25.
Junior guard Raelee Moore hit nine field goals and scored a game-high 23 points as the Vikings built a comfortable lead after a close first half.
Moore hit three jumpers, a layup off a fastbreak and a free throw as part of a 15-4 third quarter run that extended North Kitsap’s lead to 43-26. In all, the Vikings would go on to outscore the Cougars 17-6 in that definitive third quarter.
“I liked our performance in the second half, I thought we did some good things,” North Kitsap head coach Penny Gienger said. “We’re still trying to figure out where we’re at and where we’re going.”
The two teams traded baskets early before sophomore guard Noelani Barreith made a key play late in the first quarter with a steal and a layup off the fast break. Barreith was fouled on the play and sank her free throw, giving the Vikings an early 11-6 advantage. Barreith finished the game with 11 points.
Central Kitsap, which featured a freshman and a sophomore as part of the starting five, was able to rally back early. Alex Neumann, a 6-foot sophomore center, flashed her potential as an inside presence on plays such as her put-back of a missed three-point attempt. The bucket brought the Cougars back within three.
Led by senior guard Vanessa Davies, who scored a team-high 13 points, Central Kitsap stayed within striking distance throughout the first half, but could not get within seven points of North Kitsap until freshman Pono Fuiava hit a free throw late in the first half. The Cougars went into the break down 28-22.
After the critical 17-6 third quarter run by North Kitsap, Fuiava provided her team a faint ray of hope in the fourth, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, but the Vikings soon retook control. Fuiava finished her first game with 12 points.
“We have some growing pains we need to work out right now,” said Central Kitsap head coach Keri Collett.
With 4:36 to play in the fourth, Moore hit both ends of a 1-and-1 and sophomore center Ellen Rhodes scored consecutive baskets from the paint to give North Kitsap a 55-38 lead.
“We’ve got work to do,” Gienger said. “We started off a little slow, but our second half was much better than our first.”