The Vikings of North Kitsap blew past Washington 54-27 in a 2A West Central District game Wednesday in Tacoma. Up next is No. 1 White River Friday.
TACOMA — Once North Kitsap’s girls basketball started to roll, there was no stopping the Vikings.
North Kitsap left Washington High School Wednesday night with a dominate 54-27 win over the Patriots Wednesday in a 2A West Central District opener.
The win moves North Kitsap into the district quarterfinals for the fifth time in seven years and the Vikings will head to district No. 1 White River for a 7 p.m. game Friday. North lost to White River last year, 53-46, at districts before qualifying for regionals.
“We’re excited as a team,” said NK junior forward Mia McNair. “We know they’re hard. We went into a little slump this year but we’re out of it and we’re energetic and excited.”
The Vikings spread out their scoring with three players in double figures and nearly everyone contributing on the scoreboard. Sophia Baugh came off the bench to lead with 13 points, while Grace Johnson and Mia McNair each had 10 points. Noey Barreith and Maliyah Reed also had six points each.
That team-wide contribution was a big factor in North’s ability to pull ahead after a 12-7 lead heading into the second period. The Vikings masterfully found their open teammates, either hitting them with a bounce pass along the baseline for a layup behind Washington’s defense, or working the ball around the perimeter, going inside and then kicking it out to a wide-open shooter. Baugh knocked down her first shot, a long two, to make it 16-10 midway through the second, Reed added two free throws and McNair nailed a three from the right wing for a 21-13 lead.
North Kitsap coach Penny Gienger knew Washington had some size in 6-foot-4 senior Nye Quik and 6-1 junior Julie Otto and addressed the need to outbound the Patriots from the get go.
“I knew they were going to be bigger than us and I think Grace had a great first quarter,” she said. “We’re kind of small. We have to rebound.”
McNair, a 5-9 junior guard, 6-1 senior center Katie Komar, 5-9 senior forward Grace Johnson and 6-foot sophomore center Maliyah Reed were all tasked with cleanup duty on both ends but it wasn’t just the foursome. Noey Barreith, Georgia Tucker, Baugh, and even 5-4 guard Kamora McMillian snagged a rebound from behind Quik to prevent a second-chance opportunity for the Patriots.
“We knew they were taller than us so we talked in the locker room we needed to get down under the basket and box out rebounds because that was going to be really important for the game,” McNair said.
Senior Grace Johnson was the recipient of several backdoor passes and she connected with layup after layup while McNair kept nailing down 3’s. Her last one in the first half came just before the buzzer that gave the Vikings a substantial 31-16 lead.
It was a lower-scoring third quarter for North, but one in which the Vikings still managed to build a 20-point lead, 44-22, to begin the fourth. Baugh hit the first of three 3-pointers but found the opportunity to show off her inside game by going directly to the hoop.
“I kind of rely on my three’s a lot and lately Penny and my parents as well told me to keep going into the hoop and I’ve been trying,” she said. “In this game I really put my mind into it. It’s just whether my mindset’s in it or not.”
Washington outscored the Vikings in the final eight minutes, 20-11, but by then the game was well in hand and Gienger had emptied her bench.
As far as White River goes, the two teams have a history in district. The Vikings and Hornets faced off for the district championship in 2017 with White River earning a 56-41 win.
“We’re just going to go and fight,” Gienger said, “give it our best shot. We know that we’re kind of the underdogs. When you’re the underdog you don’t have anything to worry about. You just go out and play. Last year we took them to overtime.”