POULSBO — After last Tuesday’s Vikings versus Gig Harbor Tides loser-out basketball game, head coach Tony Chisholm was all smiles.
A smile that might indicate a much-needed tally in the W column. However, the Vikes season ended and the Tides advanced in their bid for a berth in the state tournament with a 67-58 victory.
But sometimes in the world of sports there are issues far more important than winning and losing, or making the state tournament for that matter.
For Chisholm it’s the way his team conducts itself on the wood.
“I was very proud of how we played the game last night,” Chisholm said. “I told the team, ‘Hey you have every right to walk out of the locker room with a smile on your face because you know you gave 110 percent and played with pride and character. Those are things you can’t buy and you brought them up within yourself.’”
Not only did the Vikings, who ended its season with a 14-11 record, play “high intensity basketball” with integrity, they played without help from star guard Kyle Erickson.
Erickson sprained his ankle during the first quarter of a Feb. 16 match against the Foss Falcons. The Vikes were defeated 75-58.
Although the Vikes fell to Foss they played like a unified team to fill Erickson’s big offensive shoes.
“We we’re able to go deeper into the bench and fill the void of Erickson,” Chisholm said. “We got some great play from the bench.”
Brandon Huggins, filling in for Erickson, hit three from outside the paint to close the half. The Vikes took a four-point deficit, 38-34, into the locker room at the half.
But the third quarter brought a momentum change in favor of the Falcons.
The Falcons played an up-tempo game and quickly took a commanding lead.
“Before I knew it we were down by 10,” Chisholm said. “From there on it was hard to come back.”
With Erickson still sidelined, it was once again up to the bench to defeat a team the Vikes had lost to twice earlier in the season.
Like true athletes the young men “were ready to play,” with a little encouragement from the coaching staff.
The Tides hit the floor scoring as the team shot its way to a 12-4 early lead. Chisholm called a quick time out.
“I made adjustments and then we started to play,” Chisholm said, “and we picked it up.”
Poulsbo’s hometown hot shots kept Gig Harbor alert, as the team nearly matched the Tides’ bucket for bucket in the first three quarters. In a surge for a state trip the Vikes went on a 9-2 scoring rampage in the fourth to bring the score within four points with 1:08 remaining.
Fouling was the Vikes final-minute strategy. Unfortunately for North Kitsap, the Tides sunk seven of 10 free throws.
“They played well and apparently made more shots,” Chisholm said of Gig Harbor. “It was a great basketball game.”
Despite the scoreboard outcome, Chisholm couldn’t have been more pleased with the team’s efforts.
“To take a loss like that and turn it into a positive, that was huge and that’s what we did,” Chisholm said last Wednesday. “I am very proud of this season.”