POULSBO — There was no letdown this time. After losing their grip on a 20-point lead in Port Angeles in December, the Vikings blew open Friday night’s game with a 9-2 run to close the first half and a 7-0 run to open the second half.
With a high-energy home crowd serving as the backdrop to a frantic, fast-paced, entertaining game, North Kitsap surged ahead in the third quarter and kept their foot on the gas, willing their way to a 75-60 victory.
Even with a sizable lead, the Vikings knew they couldn’t let up until the final buzzer.
“I think because of how tense it was, it felt a little closer,” said sophomore Jonas La Tour, who finished the night with 17 points.
Port Angeles has had their number in the past couple of years. The Roughriders have won the past three meetings between the two teams, including a league championship tiebreaker last season. And it looked like they could be in for a tough night after Port Angeles connected on their first three field goal attempts.
“Our mindset was just keep pushing, chip away,” said senior guard Kobe McMillian.
McMillian turned in a star effort, scoring a game-high 28 points on a 10-for-14 performance from the field. He comprised the entirety of North Kitsap’s 7-0 run to start the third quarter. He started with a couple of strong finishes at the basket and then knocked down a dagger from well beyond the arc to give his team a 39-27 lead just moments after the quarter had begun.
La Tour also overcame a slow start to make a major impact on the game. After missing on his first three 3-point attempts, he got on the board with three field goals in the second quarter and then sank a huge triple in the third quarter. He hit six of his last ten field goal attempts.
The sophomore guard also stepped up big on the boards, collecting 13 rebounds to go with his 17 points. With Logan Chmielewski and Aiden Olmstead in foul trouble in the second half, it was up to the 6-foot-4 La Tour to help keep Port Angeles from getting second and third chances on offense.
“I felt calm inside, but my actions were kind of frantic,” La Tour said. “In the second half, I really slowed down and was able to focus on the little things and that’s I think why I was able to excel.”
Shaa Humphrey, who has battled some nagging injuries this year, showed classic form in the second half, knocking down a couple of big 3-pointers and getting to the basket inside. He finished the game with 15 points.
“I think all of our guys, at some moment in the game, had some really good moments,” said North Kitsap head coach Scott Orness.
The Vikings are now in control of their destiny, having to simply win out to recapture the league championship and the all-important first round bye in the district tournament. They have four league games left on the schedule over the final two weeks, the biggest coming next Friday at Sequim.
North Kitsap 75, Port Angeles 60
PA 17 10 18 15 — 60
NK 14 18 26 17 — 75
Port Angeles (60) — Ringgold 14, Cobb 12, Kathol 10, Clark 8, Methner 5, Bowechop 4, Johnson III 4, Dunning 3.
North Kitsap (75) — McMillian 28, La Tour 17, Humphrey 15, Olmsted 6, Chmielewski 5, Olmstead 4.