Bremerton nearly shoots to upset ‘W’

Bremerton’s five-game win streak and climb to the top of the Olympic League ladder ended Tuesday, at least for a night, in a 69-60 loss at home against the North Kitsap Vikings.

The Vikings extended their own hot streak to eight games, cemented their status as the top 3A team in the Olympic League and won a hard-fought game despite allowing 10 3-pointers. North (12-2 overall, 10-1 league) won the first matchup between the teams 61-52 in Poulsbo Dec. 12.

North coach Tony Chisholm said the Knights showed marked improvement since the first meeting.

“They always have very good athletes, very good basketball players,” Chisholm said. “We didn’t expect it to be easy.”

Easy or not, the Vikings prevailed thanks to a few scoring spurts and a powerful game from 6-foot-7-inch senior Taylor Hoffer.

Up 45-42 after three quarters, the Vikings opened the fourth with a 6-0 run to build the lead to nine. The Knights, who also were outscored 7-0 to open the third quarter, trailed by at least six points the rest of the way.

Hoffer, who finished with a game high 22 points to go with 17 rebounds, then imposed his will to close out the game. He either created his own opportunities with second- and third-chance points or opened the door for his teammates on the outside.

The Vikings finished with three scorers in double figures, including Kyle Erickson’s 21.

“North Kitsap has what every coach wants,” BHS coach Casey Lindberg said after the game. “They have about three guys who can shoot from the outside and a big man who is a good player.”

But the Knights, who shot just 13 free throws compared to North’s 30, kept the game close despite Hoffer’s inside dominance. They pulled within 66-60 after Andre Coleman was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with less than a minute to play — he hit two of the three ensuing free throws — and had a chance to cut into the lead more. But the Vikings hit three free throws in the final 20 seconds to earn the win.

“I’ve never had to get on (the team) about playing hard, they played hard tonight,” Lindberg said. “No complaints there at all.”

Coleman scored 13 points to lead the Knights, and Terrance McGhee (12) and Jarell Flora (10) also scored in double figures. Rashawn Kendrick added nine and Josh Koets eight, despite not starting because “he wasn’t feeling 100 percent.”

With North in a zone defense and Bremerton pressuring full-court, neither team led by more than six in the first half. The Knights clung to a 15-14 lead after one quarter before North took a 34-33 halftime lead.

The Vikings switched from zone to man in the second half, forcing Bremerton to score off the dribble rather than spotting up at the 3-point line. The defensive shift, coupled with a patient and what Chisholm called a “smart” offense — the Vikings committed only 10 turnovers — was enough to keep North on top.

“When you have the lead, be smart about it,” Chisolm said. “We passed well, moved the ball around and got into our early offense.”

For the Knights (8-7, 7-4), who had beaten Olympic, Port Angeles, Kingston and Sequim twice to move into second place amongst 3A teams in the Olympic League, the loss was a temporary setback in what has turned into a successful season.

And barring a monumental collapse, the Knights will own the No. 2 3A seed in the Olympic League Tournament, earning a home game against the No. 3 seed, which most likely will be either Olympic (6-8, 3-7) or Klahowya (5-9, 4-7).

“I think we are a good high school team,” Lindberg said. “I wouldn’t want to play us.”

The Knights host Klahowya at 7 p.m. tonight.

North Kitsap 69, Bremerton 60

North Kitsap 14 20 11 24 — 69

Bremerton 15 18 9 18 — 60

North Kitsap—Brandon Huggins 11, Buddy Woodman 4, Taylor Chisholm 7, Kyle Erickson 21, Taylor Hoffer 22, Berkely Nilles 4, Evan Tidball.

Bremerton—Jarell Flora 10, Terrick McGhee 4, Andre Coleman 13, Terrance McGhee 12, J’Tonn Dale 4, Josh Koets 8, Rashawn Kendrick 9, Derek Bennett, Theo Robinson, Jordan Driskell, Michael Powell.

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