EAST BREMERTON — Don’t look now, folks, but we’ve got a logjam in the Olympic League standings.
Behind a raucuous crowd on Senior Night, the Trojans took off on a tremendous 14-2 third quarter run led by the hot shooting of junior Zoie Matheny, which catapulted the Trojans to a 59-43 victory over Kingston on Jan. 23.
Olympic’s lead was just three at halftime, but Matheny kick-started the big run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key early in the third quarter. The junior guard scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the third quarter.
With a 17-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Trojans kept up the pressure. Senior guard Kiki Mitchell hit a long jump shot to open the final frame and hit a layup on the next possession after Kingston senior Avy Hiner sank a jumper of her own. Mitchell finished with 14 points and was a terrific distributor from the point all game long.
“I’m really overwhelmed because these girls mean the world to me,” Mitchell said. “And to come out every single quarter like that and fight hard against a team that’s at the top of the league is amazing.”
In the process, Olympic gave seniors Mitchell, Lauren Peck, Dejah Coleman and Emma Meadows a victory in their final regular season home game. The quarter received the starting nod from head coach Bryan Hanley, who acknowledged before and after the game how big a part they played in leading the team through their final year, his first at the helm of the program.
“They define leadership in all of its positive forms,” Hanley said. “They have a lot of fire, poise, courage, integrity, character; they’re just great kids. It’s going to be hard to replace them; hard to match what they’ve brought.”
The two teams played a close first half — Kingston has started slow at times this year, but senior Lily Beaulieu hit a 3-pointer on its first possession to get the team off on the right foot. The Bucs and the Trojans went back and forth for much of the first half with Olympic pulling ahead late on a pair of free throws from Brilee Triggs.
The Trojans’ victory puts the two teams into a tie for third place in the Olympic League with three games each left to play. Four teams will earn a postseason berth and with Sequim still in the mix — sitting just one game behind in fifth place — every game is important as they head into the final week of the regular season.
Olympic, for its part, has a chance to secure its place in the district playoffs on Jan. 26 when they travel across the Hood Canal Bridge to face Sequim. A win guarantees the Trojans either the third or fourth seed out of the Olympic League. It would also ensure that Kingston could do no worse than tie with Sequim for the final playoff spot.
“Our mentality, every single time we attack a game, is to go 1-0 every night, so we literally take it one game at a time,” Mitchell said. “So at practice tomorrow, we’re focusing on Sequim. It’s Sequim tomorrow, Sequim the next day and then after we take care of Sequim we’re moving on to the next one.”
”They’re right behind us, we’re protecting our spot now.”
Kingston 11 14 4 14 — 43
Olympic 10 18 18 13 — 59
Kingston (43) — Hiner 10, Gomez 9, Beaulieu 8, Walker 7, Denning 5, Halady 4.
Olympic (59) — Matheny 18, K. Mitchell 14, Triggs 10, Williams 6, Coleman 5, Riley 3, Willis 2, Peck 1.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.