POULSBO — It was a bit of an anti-climatic end to the regular season, but North Kitsap secured the Olympic League championship Thursday night with an 80-47 win over North Mason, the team’s sixth in a row.
But talk after the game quickly turned to the postseason as these Vikings have much higher goals left to accomplish.
“Our one goal is to get that gold ball,” said senior Shaa Humphrey.
The road to the 2A state tournament begins next Saturday for North Kitsap when they host the winner of the first round West Central District III game between Foster and Steilacoom. The Vikings have been excellent in Poulsbo in recent years and a win would guarantee them a spot in regionals with just seeding left to be determined in the semifinals and finals.
“This group has done a pretty good job of defending the home court,” said head coach Scott Orness.
They certainly accomplished that on Thursday against the Bulldogs. It was Senior Night, so Orness went with a lineup that featured all five of his 12th graders — regulars Humphrey, Kobe McMillian and Logan Chmielewski along with Alex Johnson and Kendall Miller.
McMillian had another outstanding game for North Kitsap, hitting five of his six 3-point attempts and finishing with a game-high 26. Jonas La Tour showed off different elements of his game with great finishes at the basket and a couple of flashy dunks, including an alley-oop. La Tour ended up with 19.
The Vikings ended up with four players in double-figures as Humphrey had 14 and Chmielewski chipped in 11. They rode into halftime with a 35-12 lead and continued to pour it on from there. Orness noted that his team has done a much better job of playing a full 32 minutes in recent weeks. They have also made it a point to diversify the offense and rely less on the 3-pointer as the season has progressed.
“We struggled doing that, with that consistent effort and good play [earlier in the season],” Orness said. “I told the guys at halftime, I don’t think for the last four games I’ve had to even think about it.”
Heading into the district tournament will bring an uptick in competition. North Kitsap’s point differential in 12 league games is 27.4 points, a margin that is sure to come down the deeper they go into the postseason.
“We want to make sure we play good sound, solid defense,” Orness said. “That will be a big stressor in practice.”
Could the Vikings be the first team from Kitsap to win a boys hoops championship in 37 years? There is still quite a long way to go, but this seasoned group is embracing the chance to bring home the hardware.
“I think we’re excited for the opportunity,” Humphrey said.
North Kitsap 80, North Mason 47
NM 5 7 19 16 — 47
NK 10 25 21 24 —80
North Mason (47) — Crookshank 12, Crosswhite 11, Williams 10, Campbell 6, Beattie 5, Collins 3.
North Kitsap (80) — McMillian 26, La Tour 19, Humphrey 14, Chmielewski 11, Miller 3, Olmsted 2, Bower 2, Brockett 2, Williams 1.