POULSBO — The Vikings rolled into their belated first matchup with league-rival Olympic on a four-game winning streak, and they made it five in a row at home on Jan. 4.
Three North Kitsap (3-1, 6-5) players registered double digits in cruising past the Trojans (2-2, 4-7) in a 55-39 victory. Noelani Barreith scored a game-high 18 points, and she was followed closely by a 14-point effort from Grace Johnson and 12 points from Raelee Moore.
A power outage in Poulsbo during a storm short-circuited plans for the original Dec. 14 contest, and the two teams were on much different trajectories at the time.
Olympic was 4-2 and off to a strong start, only losing to Port Angeles and 3A Bainbridge. Meanwhile, North Kitsap was 2-5 and had just completed a difficult stretch of non-league games.
But a confidence-boosting 61-53 win over Sequim on Dec. 18 helped the Vikings turn the corner. The team had plenty of time to bond over and reflect on those good vibes on the ride home as their bus was stuck in traffic behind a jackknifed semi-trailer truck. Since then, the Vikings have looked like a more cohesive and self-assured team.
“That’s when it really turned around,” Barreith said.
Meanwhile, Olympic has had its depth tested by injuries to starting guard Brilee Triggs and post Aaliyah Williams.
“You work on certain things expecting to be able to do those things in games midseason in league when it counts,” Olympic head coach Bryan Hanley said. “And then when you can’t do them, you have to shift on the fly.”
Heading into the Jan. 4 matchup, North Kitsap head coach Penny Gienger said she had felt prepared for the Trojans the night the lights went out, but the team did not play over the holiday break and have only one game under its belt since Dec. 22.
“I didn’t feel as ready this time to play them, I felt like I was going in cold,” Gienger said.
But after a slow start, the Vikings got into a good offensive flow. Moore converted three of her first five field goal attempts in the first quarter and hit two more in the second. North Kitsap led 12-4 after one quarter and had opened up a 23-6 lead by midway through the second.
The Trojans, on the other hand, were struggling mightily.
“Our offense is based on movement and mostly what we saw in that first quarter was people just standing,” Hanley said. “Certainly we’re not going to be very successful if that’s what our offense looks like.”
But then sophomore guard Jakyiiah Willis willed her team back into the game, scoring 12 of her team-high 17 points in the second quarter. The Trojans closed the deficit to eight by halftime and brought North Kitsap’s lead down to five by the end of the third.
“With her speed and her talent, she should be putting up big numbers across the board,” Hanley said. “She’s a considerable talent and as she develops more and more skills to go along with that talent, the sky’s the limit.”
The Vikings reestablished command in the fourth quarter. The trio of Johnson, Barreith and Moore were aided by clutch baskets from Alicia Goetz and Ayanna Selembo. Maddie Pruden, as she was all game long, was a force in the paint and on the boards as they closed out the victory and held Olympic to six points in the final frame.
North Kitsap 55, Olympic 39
Oly 4 14 15 6 — 39
NK 12 14 12 17 — 55
Olympic (39) — Willis 17, Riley 9, Matheny 5, Kroesser 4, Gates 2, Turnquist 2.
North Kitsap (55) — Barreith 18, Johnson 14, Moore 12, Goetz 5, Pruden 4, Selembo 2.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.