Sports

Spartans find the Key to victory

Spartan Grant Leslie snakes through a quartet of defenders during Sunday afternoon’s non-conference exhibition with North Kitsap in the cavernous confines of Seattle’s Key Arena. Powered by another strong inside performance by Coby Gibler, the Spartans downed their traditional rivals by a count of 50-49.  - JESSE BEALS/Staff photo
Spartan Grant Leslie snakes through a quartet of defenders during Sunday afternoon’s non-conference exhibition with North Kitsap in the cavernous confines of Seattle’s Key Arena. Powered by another strong inside performance by Coby Gibler, the Spartans downed their traditional rivals by a count of 50-49.
— image credit: JESSE BEALS/Staff photo

Coby Gibler sets a career mark as Bainbridge downs NK at the big house.

SEATTLE — Bainbridge’s plan to beat the North Kitsap boys basketball team Sunday revolved around the defensive efforts of Coby Gibler against the Vikings’ no. 1 post Ryan Young.

What the Spartans weren’t planning on was what Gibler would do on the offensive end. That turned out to be plenty.

The Bainbridge sophomore turned in a career-high 15 points while keeping a frustrated Young to just eight points in the game, as the islanders beat their peninsula rivals 50-49 at Key Arena in Seattle.

“How well we could contain Ryan (Young) inside was the key,” said Bainbridge head coach Scott Orness. “He’s a great player. But Coby (Gibler) did a great job against him.”

Theo Miller added 12 points for the Spartans, with Grant Leslie ringing up nine and Lance Trueb true for six.

It was the second strong game in a week for Gibler, who dominated Nathan Hale with nine blocked shots at Paski Gym in a midweek contest.

“I’m trying to be more agressive toward the hoop, get every rebound and do whatever I can to help the team,” Gibler said.

Rather than play the annual Agate Pass match-up at their home abodes, a unique opportunity from the Seattle SuperSonics gave the teams the center stage at Key Arena before the Sonics took on the Utah Jazz the same night.

North Kitsap coach Aaron Nations wished that opportunity had coincided with a Viking turnaround as well, the team having lost four of its last five contests.

“We got into the second quarter and lost our legs and our heads,” Nations said. “Bainbridge came ready to play. We have to find a way to get the defensive stops we need.”

The Spartans’ containment strategy on Young was effective the entire first half, keeping the Viking scoreless, but both teams struggled offensively.

North Kitsap was kept outside the paint for most of the first half, relying on outside shots coming primarily from Jacob Gonzales.

Neither team played particularly well offensively in the first two periods, going into the half at 22-19.

Bainbridge opened its largest lead of the game with a 6-0 run to start the second half. But Gonzales took control of the North offense and almost single-handedly brought the Vikings back on a 10-1 run late in the third to tie things up at 29.

“Gonzales took us on his back and tried to carry us,” Nations said of the talented senior guard, recently selected as a nominee for the McDonald’s All-American team.

The teams traded buckets for the remainder of the game, and with things knotted at 47 with a minute to go, Gibler scored under the hoop to put the Bainbridge team on top.

An errant pass saw the Vikings lose their next possession, and Gibler extended the Spartan lead at the foul line by a point.

North had not one look from three-point range their final possession due to tough Spartan perimeter defense, and the Vikings had to settle for a Jared Prince lay-in that left the team down a point and out of time.

Bainbridge improves to 9-7 overall and 5-7 in league, now in third place behind Seattle Prep and O’Dea. The Spartans host Eastside Catholic at 7 p.m. Wednesday and will host Lakeside Friday.

Orness said the team’s final upcoming home game against Bishop Blanchet Feb. 4 will be the biggest determinant in the team’s playoff picture.

Gibler said the Spartans enjoyed the chance to be on the big stage – and the NBA-size court, not just the building.

“It was pretty fun,” he said. “We could feel the court difference. It was 14 feet longer and the floor gave you a lot of spring, and the hoops were really nice.

“You just adapt to it,” he added. “It felt like you were running a marathon back and forth.”

Staff writer Douglas Crist

contributed to this report.

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