The Vikings of North Kitsap moved into third place in the Olympic League girls basketball standings with a 51-47 win over the Kingston Buccaneers
KINGSTON — The North Kitsap Vikings were like a stalled car. No matter how much the girls basketball team revved its engine the Vikings couldn’t get its motor running.
Until the second quarter. That’s when back-to-back three-pointers by Ayanna Selembo sparked a comeback and gave North Kitsap (9-10 overall, 6-5 OL) a 61-47 win it was looking for Tuesday night in an Olympic League showdown against Kingston.
North Kitsap coach Penny Gienger said the Vikings had been fighting all season to put a solid game together and they did it Tuesday.
“We decided ‘Let’s play’ and we have only two games left to try and put it together and I thought the girls did a really great job,” Gienger said.
The Vikings moved into third place and secured a berth into the West Central District 2A tournament, Feb. 12-22. The Buccaneers (8-11, 5-6) are tied with North Mason (9-9, 5-6) for the fourth and final spot to district and face a must-win game against Olympic Thursday. Oly (8-11, 2-9) can play spoiler if it beats Kingston at home and North Mason beats North Kitsap Thursday in Poulsbo.
“It’s definitely a team effort,” said North Kitsap senior forward Grace Johnson. “It was very rough in the first quarter.”
Kingston took a 15-10 lead into the second quarter and led 18-13 midway through. Then Selembo came off the bench and immediately hit a 3 from the left corner, Kingston’s Kylee Walker answered with a 3-pointer and Selembo hit her second three right away to cut the Bucs lead to 21-19.
“Getting the momentum back at the end of the second quarter really helped us,” Gienger said.
Much of the game was another stellar match up between the 5-foot-9 Johnson and Kingston’s 6-foot inside sophomore Elle Brockman.
“I love her, she’s a good player, she’s a good sport,” Johnson said of Brockman who she’s battled against during the last few years in the post position.
“We’ve played together so we know each other, but we like to go hard against each other,” Brockman said, adding the the Bucs are determined to get the win Thursday.
North Kitsap’s Noey Barreith drew the score even when she made two free throws, 21-21 with 1:23 left before the half. Kingston went up by 23-21 on free throws by Walker and they took that two-point edge into the break.
Johnson’s rebound and putback tied the score at 23 and then Mia McNair sank a 3-pointer to put NK ahead for the first time, 26-25. Sophia Baugh, who’s been a welcome addition after missing most of the season nursing an injury from the volleyball season, added a 3 for a 29-25 North lead and the Vikings were off and running.
The Vikings built a double-digit lead, thanks to a Barreith 3 from the top of the circle to make it 38-26 after three quarters.
Kingston, which was paced by the 13 points from Walker, couldn’t find its shooting, which is normally solid, in the second half.
“We didn’t match their physicality in the second half,” Kingston coach Charles Deam said. “… That’s the main thing. They stepped up their physicality and we didn’t. That was difference in the game.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well in the second half either,” Deam continued. “There was a point, 46-36, and we had three chances to hit a bucket and we just couldn’t hit it.”
North Kitsap maintained its 10-point cushion throughout most of the fourth to secure the win. Barreith led NK with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks, Kamora McMillian finished with 12 points (including 9-of-12 from the line), five assists and four steals, Baugh added nine points and eight rebounds and Johnson contributed eight points. The Vikings were also solid from the line for the game, shooting 69 percent.
“I’m not going to try anything fancy,” Gienger of playing North Mason Thursday. “We’re just going to go out and play them. They have to beat us. I’m just going to try and get my team better so we can compete.”
The Bucs will have to shake off the loss quickly as they head to Bremerton to face Olympic.
“Olympic’s got nothing to lose so they’ll be ready,” Deam said. “We have to be physical.”