TACOMA — With a chance to play in Saturday’s Class 2A West Central District championship game, the North Kitsap Vikings girls basketball team saw that opportunity slip away in a 37-36 loss to Port Angeles Wednesday at Bellarmine Prep in the district semifinals.
The tense final seconds ended rather bizarrely.
North Kitsap was ahead 36-34 before Port Angeles hit a 3-pointer with 17.5 seconds left to take a 37-36 lead. After a missed shot on the Vikings next possession and a jump ball kept the ball in NK’s hands, coach Penny Gienger called a timeout with 2.6 seconds remaining to draw up a play.
The first buzzer sounded, which was a warning buzzer for ending the timeout. Both teams got set as NK inbounded the ball after the referee’s whistle. That’s when a second buzzer went off disrupting play as the players stopped and the referee blew his whistle again. NK and PA resumed without either team taking a second timeout.
NK inbounded the ball and got it to Olivia Selembo who let go an off-kilter shot as the game buzzer sounded and Port Angeles players celebrated.
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Gienger said having the horn go off a second time after the Vikings had already run their play was unfair.
“That was so unfair to my team, so totally unfair, and the officials didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “We had a play all set and then they let the (horn) go and they had already given her (Lauren Weins) the ball. We already ran our play. That’s just wrong. It’s just wrong.”
In retrospect Gienger said she should have called another timeout to see what other options she had.
“We could have won that game,” she said. “We had two shots at it.”
The loss might be a bit of a buzzkill for the Vikings but North had alredy put the work in to snag a regional spot earlier in districts. This is the team’s fourth straight regional appearance. North’s last state appearance (when the tournament was run in a 16-team, double-elimination format) was during the 1987-88 season.
The Vikings will play Fife for the third/fourth seed to regionals at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Washington High School.
Guard Weins said the team is focused on improving their positioning through wins.
“We’re going to regionals either way,” she said, “but we want to be a higher seed.”
North took the lead early on in the game knowing that an aggressive style of play would put the Roughriders back on their heels. NK led 10-6 after the first period but the game was a back-and-forth affair from that point on as neither team gained more than a 6-point lead. PA cameback to take a 17-16 lead at halftime.
Port Angeles has defintely been a thorn in the Vikings’ side this season.
“They’re so fast getting in the passing lanes and then they’re all hustling on defense,” Weins said. “We had too many turnovers.”
An offensive spurt on baskets by Raelee Moore, Olivia Selembo and Noey Barreith gave the Vikings a 24-21 lead in the third. Two 3-pointers by Gracie Long to end the third and start the fourth gave PA a 27-26 lead. Three lead changes and two ties in the fourth put Port Angeles up 34-31 with 2:29 to go.
That’s when Weins sank a much-needed three to tie the game at 34 with two minutes left.
“In past games I’ve been hitting 3’s when we need them,” Weins said, adding she has the green light to shoot when she’s open. “When it comes time to I’ll step up and do it.”
Selembo missed her three-point attempt with about 20 seconds left but Erin Pearson was there to grab the rebound as it came off the rim and the senior didn’t hesitate, putting up a jumper that swished the netting as NK’s bench erupted, giving the Vikings a 36-34 lead with less than two minutes to go.
But it was PA’s Devin Edwards who played the hero, hitting the game-winning three pointer to take a 37-36 lead with 17.5 seconds to go as the Roughriders held on in the final seconds.
“We had some great spurts and we had some bad spurts,” Gienger said.
The Roughriders deep bench was a factor as Gienger touted the toughness of her players she noted PA coach Mike Poindexter played everyone.
“They’re tough, they’re a tough team,” she said. “Their zone is tough. We didn’t get beat by some slouch. We got beat by a real team.”