The North Kitsap Vikings will start play in the state 2A boys basketball tournament at the Sun Dome in Yakima Wednesday after beating Sammamish 58-50 Feb. 26.
The Vikings will face fifth-seed Sehome March 1 at 12:15 p.m. If they win they play No. 6 seed Lynden in the quarterfinals March 2. If they lose they are out.
What made it a bit surprising was the Vikings were beaten soundly by the Redhawks 73-64 just about a week earlier.
The difference was defense. In that game, the Redhawks were on fire from 3-point land. But in this game, the Viking defense shut down Sammamish’s explosive offense, holding them to just 50 points.
As usual, North Kitsap’s stars led the way, with Cade Orness scoring 23 points and Harry Davies 15. Ethan Gillespie led the winners with five rebounds.
But it was Jalen East who was the hero of this game.
With a few minutes left, North Kitsap trailed but responded to the pressure as the defense tightened and the Vikings outscored the Redhawks 11-2 the rest of the way.
East stole the ball and scored a layup as NK took back the lead at 49-48. A few possessions later, East nailed a three-pointer from the corner to put the Vikings up 52-48.
Orness finished the game at the free throw line, scoring the final three points to give the Vikings a 10-point lead. Sammamish scored a layup as time expired.
After falling to the Redhawks in the district tournament the week prior because of a slow start, trailing 16-2 after the first quarter, the Vikings came out on fire in this game.
Davies began the first-quarter scoring with a layup off the tip-off. Davies and Orness continued to pressure the Redhawks by putting up 14 of the 19 points in the first eight minutes. The Vikings held Sammamish to only 10 points in the first quarter.
Gillespie became North Kitsap’s third option in the second quarter, picking up five of his 13 points.
The Vikings went into halftime with a 37-27 lead. But the Viking offense fell asleep for the next 12 minutes. During the third and half of the fourth quarter, the Vikings scored just seven points. On the other hand, Sammamish took a 44-40 lead by scoring 21 points during that span, leading up to East’s heroics.
North Kitsap qualified for state after finishing fourth in the district tournament, winning one game and losing two. Along with losing to the Redhawks, they lost to Enumclaw 56-49. But they started the district tourney with an impressive 60-44 romp over Clover Park.
NK was undefeated in Olympic League play at 14-0, but its 18-7 overall. They were seeded second to Renton in the district tournament.
They are the lowest seed left at state, with Pullman first, Anacortes second, Renton third, Mark Morris fourth, Prosser seventh, R.A. Long eighth, West Valley Spokane ninth, Enumclaw 10th and Tumwater 11th.