There are a handful of teams that will win their final games of the season, it’s more common to deal with the sting of a loss than the euphoria of a victory when the final buzzer sounds.
The North Kitsap girls basketball team will feel the pain of a 38-34 loss to Lynden for the next few days but should take solace in a season that began so shaky ended at the Class 2A state tournament.
The Lions had just enough firepower, mixed with a second and third-quarter scoring drought by North Kitsap to send them into the trophy round while the Vikings (21-8) headed home Friday from the Yakima SunDome.
“We can’t do much more than we did,” said NK coach Penny Gienger. “We had our chances. Both teams were pretty even. I don’t think they were much better than us.”
What hurt the Vikings more than anything was a four-point second quarter followed by a six-point third. North rallied late to make the final minutes nerve-wracking for fans and players alike.
Trailing 30-27 in the fourth, North Kitsap’s Lauren Weins finally was able to get her shot to fall as she nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game. But it didn’t last long. Lynden quickly went up 36-30. After a bucket by NK, the Vikings took a timeout with 46 seconds remaining and down 36-32.
On North’s next possession, Weins drove inside looking for the layup but was fouled with 38 seconds left. She made both free throws and Gienger took a timeout trailing 36-34.
“We made some really nice plays down the stretch,” Gienger said. “It wasn’t the end that hurt us, it was the middle. We had good looks we just didn’t put them down.”
After stopping Lynden, North’s Olivia Selembo was fouled driving to the basket with seven seconds left on the clock. She missed both and Lynden gathered the rebound as North was forced to foul. The Lions made both free throws with three seconds left to secure the win.
Selembo finished with 15 points and averaged 14 points per game for the tournament. Weins chipped in five points and seven rebounds while Raelee More led with eight rebounds and four points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Gienger said she would be shocked if Selembo didn’t make the all-tournament team.
“She had three great games,” she said. “She was very good.”
Gienger said her seniors, Weins, Selembo, Erin Pearson, Hali Apilado and Katie Hughes, drove the program the last four years, which included three regional playoffs and a combined 69-33 overall record. It’s the Vikings first 20-plus win season in more than five seasons.
“The seniors are tough,” she said. “They really wanted to make it here. Once we got here, we thought we could go further. I wish we could have brought some hardware home. They did good. I thought we had a good showing.”
Gienger said the experience her players gained was invaluable.
“They’ll take this with them, and it’s something they’ll always have,” she said. “Maybe we can make it a habit.”