North Kitsap erased a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat No. 1 Lynden, 62-56, and move on to its first state 2A boys basketball championship
By Sandy Ringer, For West Sound SportsPlus
YAKIMA — You could call them the heart-attack kids.
But coach Scott Orness simply refers to their collective heart.
Never-say-die North Kitsap overcame a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat top-ranked Lynden — the two-time defending champion — in the semifinals of the Class 2A state boys basketball tournament Friday night, 62-56. The No. 4 Vikings (23-4) are in the championship game for the first time in school history and play No. 7 Clarkston (20-5) Saturday at 3 p.m.
“They’ve got more heart than I know what to do with, to be honest with you,” Orness said. “They kept their cool again and stuck with what we’re trying to do and they just played well together. Gosh, and they just made plays.”
That “again” reference? Well, the Vikings were down 13 in the first half against White River Thursday before storming away. And they had a close battle for most of their opening game as well.
“We played our heart out,” said sophomore Johny Olmsted, who delivered two key baskets to help fuel North Kitsap’s 15-2 run to close out the game. “We trust each other, we trust our coach, we just gave everything. … We know this is our year, and we’re going to make that come true.”
The Vikings led 59-56 when Shaa Humphrey sank two clutch free throws with 31.1 seconds to go.
“I live for those moments,” the 6-foot-4 senior said. “I feel like that’s every basketball player’s dream. When you’re little, you shoot free throws in the back yard or wherever you are, dreaming of that situation, so it was awesome.”
Humphrey scored 10 of his game-high 21 points in the final five minutes, refusing to give up on the team’s season-long dream of winning the first title in program history.
“We want to be that team,” he said. “We’ve just embraced that the whole season and we’re looking forward to getting a chance at it tomorrow.”
Kobe McMillian also delivered some big shots — a pair of 3’s in the fourth, for instance — to finish with 15 points, while Jonas LaTour added 14, including four triples.
Equally important was the defensive play of Logan Chmielewski against Lynden’s 6-foot-11 Liam Hanenburg. Chmielewski, who admits he’s 6-2 ½ “on a good day,” fronted the big junior for most of the game and limited him to six points in the second half (16 for the game).
“He’s been our bulldog all year,” Humphrey said. “He doesn’t back down from anyone.”
Chmielewski came out of the locker room exhausted.
“I’m going to sleep well tonight,” he said.
He seemed almost in disbelief in the aftermath.
“We’re not supposed to be here,” Chmielewski. “We’ve been down double-digits, and we’ve just been battling. I’m just so happy. We’re not supposed to be here, at all.”
Especially not after trailing 40-25 with less than four minutes to play in the third quarter. And it was 50-38 with a little over 6 ½ minutes to go. But then La Tour, who had found his stroke Thursday against White River, canned back-to-back 3-pointers and the defense made stops, holding Lynden to just two field goals the rest of the way.
So, here the Vikings are — in the state championship game. And they have their hearts set on winning it all.