Vikings ticket to Yakima punched with opening round win

North Kitsap slowly but surely found a rhythm to put to sleep the haunting memories of the past weekend, the third-seed Vikings pulling away late in a 58-48 victory over the Mark Morris Monarchs in the opening round of the 2A state basketball tournament.

The contest marked a return to the hardwood of Tacoma Community College, the same venue where the Vikings had watched a district title slip through their fingers in a Feb. 17 overtime loss to Renton. Faced after such a loss to compete against a Mark Morris squad under the leadership of legendary head coach Bill Bakamus, it was fair to say state tournament nerves were overwhelmingly present in the days leading up to tip-off.

“I would’ve rather only had two days to prepare against a program like that ‘cause I’ve been worried for five days and watched more film than I’ve ever watched before,” said Vikings coach Scott Orness.

The nerves would remain in the first few minutes of the game, but a clutch three-pointer to tie and a subsequent two-point field goal to take the lead by senior Cade Orness signaled a change in momentum in favor of the Vikings. Coach Orness’ squad held a 16-14 lead at the first quarter’s end and would go on to take a 29-26 lead into halftime.

The start of the second half let loose what at times could be characterized as an on-court melee, both teams in battle for possession while mixed with whistles from officials that sent both coaches in leaping frenzied fits.

Yet it was the Vikings, under the leadership of senior Harry Davies, who pulled together to take control of the game for good. The exclamation point: an alley-oop toss to Orness for an electric two-handed flush with 3:30 to go in the third.

“My guys just trust me, and I trust my guys,” Davies said. “We know each other pretty well. We been through it a lot, been through summer together and went through the whole fall together.”

Davies, though limited by foul trouble, finished as his team’s leading scorer with 17 points, Orness not finishing far behind at the 14-point mark. Also finishing with 14 points was junior Jordan Williams, with just three other Vikings tallying points that night.

When coach Orness was asked whether it was destiny or cruel irony that gave his team a chance at redemption at the TCC court that night, he was inclined to stick closer to the former.

“I think that (Renton) game really lit a fire under our guys,” he said. “We had a great week of practices, regrounded us, and I think it’s going to set us up for a nice little run here.”