BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — North Kitsap needed every ounce of its experience Tuesday night against the Bainbridge Spartans.
A 35-24 halftime lead disappeared in the second half as Bainbridge battled back from 17 points down to lead 50-49.
But that’s when the Vikings’ game experience, and veteran scoring, came through.
North went 6-of-6 at the free-throw line to pull away and win the nonleague girls basketball game 59-53.
It was the 57th meeting between the two schools with North leading the all-time series 30-27.
“In the fourth quarter my girls are pretty savvy,” said North coach Penny Gienger. “I like the way they kind of take over and make the shots when they need to. They don’t panic.
“When (Bainbridge) took that lead my girls could have collapsed, but they didn’t. They came down and scored.”
North held a 49-48 lead with 3:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Lea Wolf’s defensive rebound started Bainbridge’s transition as Wolf passed to Olivia Wikstrom who dribbled downcourt to find Morgan Lassoff alone along the 3-point arc. Lassoff let loose her shot from the right side to make it 50-49.
North senior Olivia Selembo, playing her first full minutes since coming back from an ankle injury, hit the underhand layup for a 51-50 Vikings lead.
NK ran the table from there as they were a perfect at the line, including 4-of-4 from Selembo. She finished with 10 points as did Noey Barreith and Raelee Moore. NK was led by the 13 points from Erin Pearson.
Barreith said the attitude on the team is one of cohesiveness.
“We cheer for each other all the time on the court,” she said.
Bainbridge was led by the 17 points and 11 rebounds from Wikstrom. Grace Carson added 12 points and nine rebounds.
Bainbridge coach Henry Guterson said he was proud of the Spartans’ effort to get back into the game, but said winning close games in the final minute is a learned skill.
“We certainly have (become) better in close games, how we play, but certainly there’s a ways to go,” he said. “Every possession is certainly crucial. But we’ll get there.”
Both teams will be off until after Christmas, and it’s a welcome break as they will look to start the second half of the season recharged.
The Spartans host Kingston Dec. 28
Guterson said the loss to North Kitsap could help the Spartans in the end.
“A lot of the games coming up in the Metro League (the teams) are right with us in the standings,” he said. “This game will help us in those games.”
The Vikings will play in the Anacortes tournament, Dec. 28-29, before returning to Olympic League games in January.
Gienger added she’d never had guessed her team would be 8-1 in December.
“I’m pretty excited that we are,” she said.