Stagnation stifles North in losses to CK, Mt. T

POULSBO — Here comes the pressure-cooker. Despite a 49-46 setback to Central Kitsap Jan. 26 followed by a manhandling by Mount Tahoma Jan. 27, the North Kitsap Vikings (8-8 overall, 5-7 league) are still eyeing an automatic berth into the West Central District tournament.

POULSBO — Here comes the pressure-cooker.

Despite a 49-46 setback to Central Kitsap Jan. 26 followed by a manhandling by Mount Tahoma Jan. 27, the North Kitsap Vikings (8-8 overall, 5-7 league) are still eyeing an automatic berth into the West Central District tournament.

The top three teams of each Narrows League Division earn an automatic berth while the fourth place teams from each division will face each other in a loser-out playoff.

North was tied with Olympia (5-12, 5-7) for third place in the Narrows Bay Division at the end of the day Jan. 29. Both teams faced league opponents Jan. 30 but results were unavailable at press time.

Thursday, the Bears and Vikings will square off in Olympia for what could determine automatic berth to the postseason.

“To even be considered as a playoff team is awesome,” NK head coach Kaelea Makaiwi said. “We’ve just got to take it one game at a time.”

But nothing is guaranteed for North or Olympia at this point.

CK (8-8, 5-7) — sitting in fifth place of the division — will play four games this week, also making a bid for one of the top four spots. 

The Cougars tightened their grip on the playoff race with a win over the Vikings last Friday.

The game began with no clear advantage, though North started sluggishly. By the four-minute mark of the first quarter, the Cougars had taken an 11-6 lead. Then NK sophomore Arissan Ugles swung the game’s momentum, scoring six points in the final minutes, helping to put North ahead 13-11 at the end of one.

Through a back-and-forth battle of a second quarter, the Viking offense sputtered while the Cougars mounted a three-point lead into half time, 27-24.

“We ran some of our offenses halfway through, but we needed to finish them all the way through,” Makaiwi said of NK’s scoring woes.

On the game, Jade Niemeyer led the Vikes with 12 points while Ugles added 11 and Darcy Hughes cashed in eight. For the Cougars, Amanda Evans and Lauren Forney each scored 14.

North came out firing in the second half as Hughes and Riley Watts each knocked in deep jumpers, but CK had an answer each time. The Vikings then looked to a 2-3 zone to shake up the Cougar offense, but Evans and Kim Kummer capitalized with a three-pointer apiece, boosting CK to a 10-point lead with just under a minute left in the quarter.

“When they were ahead of us by 10, we could’ve rolled over died, but we didn’t,” Makaiwi said.

“We’ve built ourselves as a team this year; we’ve built a family,” Ugles added. “We never gave up, we kept our composure.”

Picking away at the lead, the Vikings stayed vigilant. Niemeyer cashed in a three-pointer with 3:40 left in the game to keep them alive, 40-44. Then Brenna Lander sprinted for a coast-to-coast bucket to cut the lead.

But that was as close as the Vikings would come as they couldn’t capitalize on a couple of last minute opportunities.

“We play it game by game, so this one is over now it’s onto the next one,” Ugles said.

Traveling to face Mount Tahoma the next day, the Vikings ran into an undefeated road block as the T-birds (17-0, 12-0) scored 96 points to top the Vikings 96-42.

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