POULSBO — The North Kitsap girls are finally getting healthy, and just in time for the stretch drive.
Senior guards Olivia Selembo and Lauren Weins returned to action as the Vikings welcomed Kingston for a matchup with major implications. Selembo dropped 15 points as North Kitsap defeated the Buccaneers 50-40 on Jan. 10.
Selembo had missed most of the season with a leg injury — and only recently began assuming spot duty with the team — but played her first full game against Kingston, and her impact was immediate. A guard with a strong move to the basket, she scored the team’s first two baskets on layups in a game that otherwise saw both teams struggle from the field early.
“I think for the most part our defense was spot on,” North Kitsap head coach Penny Gienger said, adding that both teams did an excellent job of defending the paint.
Weins, the team’s starting point guard, played three minutes in each quarter, and looked confident with the ball as she ramped back up to playing at full speed.
“She’s been starting for me for a while, so she knows what to do,” Gienger said. “She was telling me what play to run.”
Momentum picked up for the Vikings late in the first quarter after a nice layup by sophomore Grace Johnson and a big 3-pointer by senior Bea Bato. North Kitsap had a 14-5 lead after one.
In the second quarter, it was junior sharpshooter Raelee Moore who had the hot hand, scoring 10 of her game-high 18 points. After sinking a triple from the top of the key, Moore went inside to score on a layup on the next possession, before hitting a third consecutive shot on a jumper.
Meanwhile, Kingston was unable to interrupt North Kitsap’s scoring runs or generate a long offensive run of its own. The Buccaneers managed only four field goals in the first half and found themselves trailing 25-15 at halftime.
“That’s been our Achilles heel, our slow starts,” Kingston head coach Charles Deam said. “That cost us tonight. It kind of took us too long to get going. To North’s credit, they played excellent defense.”
To wit, when Lily Beaulieu opened the second half with a basket for Kingston, the Vikings were there to answer immediately. Selembo scored on a layup, and then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key on the ensuing possession. That series summed up how the game went for both teams.
With the win, North Kitsap improved to 6-0 in league play, one game ahead of Port Angeles and two games ahead of Kingston for first place in the Olympic League. The team is mostly at full strength, only missing sophomore center Katie Komar, who has a leg injury.
“We’ve got our seniors back now and we’re able to all work together,” Moore said. “We’ve got a strong bench.”
Kingston has home games upcoming against Port Townsend and Sequim before getting a second chance against North Kitsap on Jan. 19 at home. Bright spots for the Buccaneers included the performance of Beaulieu — who finished with 15 points and was able to get herself a few open looks against a tough defense — and the play for Morgan Halady, their six-foot freshman center, who did a terrific job rebounding and added nine points.
“She was saving us on the rebounds, her and Avy,” Deam said. “Morgan stepped up big on the boards, she was cleaning up a lot of our stuff.”
North Kitsap 50, Kingston 40
Kingston 5 10 12 13 – 40
North Kitsap 14 11 12 13 – 50
Kingston (40) – Beaulieu 15, Halady 9, Denning 8, Gomez 4, Hiner 3, Deam 1.
North Kitsap (50) – Moore 18, Selembo 15, Pearson 5, Barreith 4, Johnson 4, Bato 3, Hughes 1.