Vikings’ senior crew has high hoops hopes

POULSBO — Last year’s North Kitsap boys’ basketball season resembled that of a certain Northwest baseball team: an awe-inspiring regular season, followed by a playoff fizzle. After winning 15 games in a row last year and going 15-5 overall, the Vikings dropped two straight in the playoffs, losing to Kentwood and Federal Way.

POULSBO — Last year’s North Kitsap boys’ basketball season resembled that of a certain Northwest baseball team: an awe-inspiring regular season, followed by a playoff fizzle.

After winning 15 games in a row last year and going 15-5 overall, the Vikings dropped two straight in the playoffs, losing to Kentwood and Federal Way.

This year, the Vikings hope to rewrite that third act.

“We have a core group that’s been together for three years,” head coach Bob Fronk said at a recent practice. “We’ve been through wins, losses, close games, overtime games …”

Fronk thinks that experience, aided by a balanced scoring effort, can help the Vikings reach districts again — and this time put a check mark in the win column.

The Vikings go into the season with a pair of obstacles. The first is to find a replacement for the scoring of graduated shooting guard Marc McNall, who led the Vikings in scoring (18.3 a game in the regular season) and gave North Kitsap an important offensive spark with his playmaking.

“We’ll be more balanced on offense this year,” Fronk said. “Marc was a go-to guy; he accounted for 60 or 70 percent of our offense. But we have four or five capable of scoring in double figures.”

Those players are led by 6’9” center Bryan Haupt, a talented jump shooter and post player who averaged 14 points a game last season and will be expected to rebound as well; wing player Jerrod Gonzales, who stepped up in several important games last season; Thomas Jordan, an energy source who Fronk said will be a strong fixture in the rotation; and Justin Vestman, a callup from junior varsity who Fronk said has worked hard and improved his game.

But one of the most essential Vikings, point guard Josh Mathews, will begin the season on the bench.

Mathews contracted mononucleosis right before tryouts began, and the Vikings will have to play two or three games without his steady play at the point.

“I have faith in the other guys,” Fronk said, “but he’s battle-tested. He gives us an outside threat, and he’s deceptive. He lulls people to sleep.”

Mathews will have to get in the required 10 practices before he plays, but it isn’t as if he’d been sleeping through the summer. Mathews competed in summer tournaments with Vikings such as Jordan, Gonzales, Haupt, and others, claiming a final four finish at Highline Community College and Tacoma Community College.

“If you play year round, you get better every game,” Mathews said. “That’ll help us in game situations.”

The Vikings will also be helped by the play of Sean Kelly, an addition Fronk said will help the team’s frontline depth; Reid Ammann, an “up and coming” junior who can play many positions; versatile Devin Reed, who will provide strength and rebounding; the talented Chad Foster, fresh off a season as the Vikings’ quarterback, who Fronk said has a lot of talent; sophomore David Brillhart, who Fronk has dubbed a pleasant surprise, is armed with speed and quickness; and newcomer Patrick Gilbert, who could be a consistent defensive stopper for the Vikings.

Fronk thinks the team’s cohesiveness will make it blend quickly and effectively as a group. With Haupt manning the post and Mathews handling the ball, and solid play elsewhere on the court and along the bench, he thinks the team could return to the postseason.

“I want a great finish for our seniors. I’d like to challenge for the Narrows League title,” he said.

He added, “If we don’t get taken seriously, that’s fine. We’ll sneak up on some people.”

More in Sports

Jonas La Tour of North Kitsap was the league MVP last spring. File Photo
Winter prep sports previews

North Kitsap boys basketball; Kingston wrestling

With the strong winds, Viking quarterback Colton Bower (2) was more effective running the ball in the first half. Here Quinn Knivila- Ruchie (52) and Jesus Mares (53) block for him. Steve Powell/North Kitsap Herald photographs
Wind, rain, Lions knock NK out of playoffs

It’s hard enough to beat the second-ranked team in the state playoffs… Continue reading

Viking quarterback Colton Bower was named MVP, again, of the Olympic League. File Photo
Bower MVP, again; 11 others also honored

Gee, wonder who the Most Valuable Player is in the Olympic League… Continue reading

Logan Sloman catches a touchdown pass. Nancy Treder/File Photos
NK gridders advance to 2A state semifinals

North Kitsap High School is on its way to the state Class… Continue reading

Maddie Pryde is one of the standouts on the Viking team. File Photo
Anacortes knocks N. Kitsap girls out at state

North Kitsap’s girls volleyball team stunned Washington in three sets Friday in… Continue reading

Colton Bower. File Photo
N. Kitsap hosts state playoff game Saturday

14th seeded Shadle Park will face No. 3 seed Vikings

The North Kitsap boys basketball team celebrates after pulling off an improbable comeback in the semifinals in the 2A state tournament against Lynden. (File photo)
Krulish: A look back at my 4 years in Kitsap

After a little over four years covering high school sports, and occasionally… Continue reading

Colton Bower’s 299-yard, six touchdown performance on Friday night helped him break the North Kitsap record for passing yards in a season. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Bower sets NK passing record in win over Kingston

Colton Bower is one of the last players you’ll ever hear talking… Continue reading

North Kitsap’s Maddie Pryde tips a shot past two Bainbridge defenders. The Vikings defeated the Spartans on Tuesday night to split their season series and share the top spot in the Olympic League. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
NK beats BHS to share top spot in Olympic League

The North Kitsap volleyball team never forgot about its first loss of… Continue reading

Review file photo 
The Bainbridge HS girls cross country team, shown here taking off during a league meet at Battle Point Park, took home the Olympic League championship last week.
Spartan girls XC win Olympic League title

The Spartans girls cross country team cooked up the same recipe for… Continue reading

Olympic’s Joshua Gauyan evades the defense of Port Angeles’ Jeremiah Hall on Friday night in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Prep Football: Week 8 roundup

Sequim 33, Kingston 20 The Bucs opened the game with a successful… Continue reading

Central Kitsap running back Kouper Hall went over 1,000 rushing yards for the season against North Thurston on Friday night. He had 304 yards and four touchdowns in the 61-7 win. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Central Kitsap’s big win over North Thurston helps push for playoffs

The Central Kitsap High football team had a whole lot of time… Continue reading