Playing in their home gym for the first time in over a year, the Vikings still looked like the team that regularly ran up big scores in front of a boisturouscrowd.
A strong offensive effort helped North Kitsap breeze past a tall, athletic Central Kitsap squad 79-51 in their home opener Monday night.
The victory was another step in the right direction for this young team, which lost its first game at the buzzer to Kingston. They rebounded to beat Sequim 83-48 and looked unstoppable at times against the Cougars.
“Against Sequim we really got our effort up, and things started clicking,” coach Scott Orness said. “Tonight, I think we started to see a little bit of the x’s and o’s with the effort and some of the real explosive power we have.”
Leading the way was junior point guard Johny Olmsted, who put up another primetime effort with a career-high 26 points. In his first two years on varsity Olmsted primarily played a distributor role, but with the loss of several key offensive players to graduation from the 2020 2A state championship team, Olmsted is now relied upon to be a top scorer as well. He also had 22 points in the win over Sequim.
“I definitely feel comfortable in this situation,” Olmsted said. “This last year, I’ve spent a lot of time on myself, reconfiguring my shot, getting my confidence to get ready for the next level and take that role.”
Olmsted looked the part all game, driving the scoring early, picking up 11 of his points in the first quarter. He was a threat both at the basket and beyond the arc, and his second 3-pointer of the quarter gave North Kitsap a 15-6 lead.
“Johny is just playing so hard,” Orness said. “He’s really come on and has really stepped into that leadership role and has scored for us.”
Central Kitsap went toe-to-toe with them early as Maurice Green hit all four of his field goal attempts and both of his free throws in the opening frame. The Vikings’ lead at the end of one was just three points.
But North Kitsap pulled away thanks to a huge second quarter. Olmsted drew a couple of fouls early and hit all of his free throw attempts, as did fellow junior Jonas La Tour. When Gray Hager knocked down a 3-pointer, their lead was 35-26.
The Vikings also got the chance to show off some athleticism with some explosive plays down the court. Late in the first half, La Tour sent a long pass to freshman Cade Orness that was out of his reach, but Orness was able to save it from going out of bounds and get it to Jack Ryan at the basket for an easy layup. That play gave North Kitsap a 45-26 lead heading into the half.
La Tour got into rhythm in the third quarter, hitting three of his four successful 3-pointers as part of a 10-4 run that furthered the lead to 60-39. La Tour finished the game with 20 points and 15 rebounds despite missing some of his regular floor time. He was in some foul trouble in the first half and left the game in the fourth quarter after hitting the floor hard following a dunk.
But the Vikings had more scoring options step up. Late in the third quarter, Orness was on the receiving end of a couple of home run passes down the court, and he was able to convert them into easy baskets, his last giving his team a 64-41 lead. Orness finished with 18 points.
“We’ve come a long way in three games,” coach Orness said.
North Kitsap gets a few days of practice ahead before its next game Saturday at South Kitsap, which should help the team continue to get comfortable with one another on the court after getting little time in the preseason.
“That first game we were just trying to figure out our roles,” Olmsted said. “These last two games have felt really good, especially this game.”
North Kitsap 79, Central Kitsap 51
CK 18 8 15 10 — 51
NK 21 24 19 15 — 79
Central Kitsap (51) — M. Green 18, D. Green 8, Johnson 8, Massey 6, Searer 6, Stringer 3, P. Davis 2.