YAKIMA — At crunch time, teams always look to their veteran leaders to bring them through the toughest moments. On Saturday at the Yakima SunDome, North Kitsap was fortunate to have two with the fortitude to lead them to the promised land.
Seniors Shaa Humphrey and Kobe McMillian scored all 15 Vikings points in the fourth quarter as they battled Clarkston right down to the very last second in the 2A state championship game. Their continued success in hitting clutch shots and free throws helped them make history as the North Kitsap boys captured the program’s first-state championship with a 56-53 victory.
Humphrey, who finished with 11 points, was named the MVP of the tournament and he hit two of the biggest field goals in that fateful final quarter.
“Since we got here, the guy has just turned it up a notch,” said North Kitsap head coach Scott Orness.
He tied the game at 44 with 5:54 remaining with a huge 3-pointer from the top of the key. Then, with 31.3 seconds to go, he made a strong drive to the hoop and scored on a layup that ultimately put the game out of reach.
“I can’t take all the credit,” Humphrey said. “My teammates set me up to make big shots in big moments and we all just believed in each other. Honestly, it took all 12 of us.”
McMillian was the key stabilizer in between those two big buckets. He hit a 3-pointer to put North Kitsap ahead 47-46 in that seesaw fourth quarter, and then sank free throws on seven consecutive attempts.
After Humphrey’s drive, Clarkston senior Tru Allen went straight down the court and put home layup to pull the Bantams back within three. Clarkston had to foul and that sent Humphrey to the line for two. He missed both and Clarkston got another chance. Allen’s 3-pointer was well off the mark and went out of bounds.
On the inbound, the Bantams took away the ball and got not one, but two shots to tie the game. Both were short and the buzzer sounded.
“At the end when he took that shot, it looked like it was about to go in,” McMillian said. “And I was like, ‘No way!’ Then it went short and I just lost it. I just ran and went to go look at the fans, all those people I appreciate them so much, the whole community.”
The Vikings are the first boys team from Kitsap to win a hoops title since Olympic won it all in 1983. No North Kitsap team has ever finished higher than third.
And they had to do it in rather heart-stopping fashion. Neither team ever led by more than six and the Vikings once again trailed heading into the fourth quarter, although this time it was by only one point.
“I would definitely say it was tough wire-to-wire,” Humphrey said. “No team could really pull away.”
Jonas La Tour finished with a team-high 21 points and connected on four 3-pointers. He also had 11 rebounds for a double-double. The undoubted future star of the program was a key player in the second and third quarters as Clarkston’s outside shooters really began to heat up.
As the players began to leave the locker room, talk already turned to next year. “One day off, then back to work,” was a refrain uttered by more than one player.
La Tour, along with fellow sophomores Aiden Olmstead and Johny Olmsted will form the core of this team over the next two seasons and have the chance to make this year’s championship just a part of a special era of North Kitsap basketball.
“We’ve got some youngins coming up,” La Tour said. “We have Cade, the coach’s son over there. I think with me, Johny and Aiden I think we can give it a run next year.”
But for at least one day, the team can enjoy their accomplishment — especially Orness, who needed some extra time to soak in the moment. He had previously come ever-so-close to a championship when he led Bainbridge to the 3A title game in 2007, but came up short against O’Dea.
“It’s a little surreal, to be honest with you,” Orness said.
North Kitsap 56, Clarkston 53
NK 13 13 15 16 — 56
CN 8 16 18 11 — 53
North Kitsap (56) — La Tour 21, McMillian 17, Humphrey 11, Chmielewski 3, Olmstead 2, Olmsted 2.
Clarkston (53) — Allen 26, Dreadfulwater 9, Italia 8, Frazier 5, Robbins 3, Chatfield 2.