Looking for a boost on Monday night before beginning their Olympic League slate, the North Kitsap Vikings shut down Bainbridge Spartans with a strong defensive effort, especially in the second half, in a 53-45 victory in girls varsity basketball.
Vikings senior guard Noelani Barreith, the team’s leading scorer last season, led the team with 18 points and fellow senior Grace Johnson added 11. Junior guard Mia McNair also chipped in 11 points.
“We’re trying to get better and better, we’ve still got a lot to learn,” said Viking Head Coach Penny Gienger.
The Spartans were led by Northern Colorado-bound senior Olivia Wikstrom, but the Vikings did a good job of closing off the paint and limiting their second chances.
While Wikstrom finished with a game-high 19 points, North Kitsap limited her to just six field goals and Bainbridge managed just 16 points in the second half; and a mere four points in the third quarter.
NK’s defense will come in handy as the Olympic League looks like a three-team race this year between Port Angeles, Sequim and North Kitsap — though Kingston is quite formidable as well and cannot be overlooked, and Olympic has some young talent.
“We have Sequim and PA on our radar,” Barreith said.
Port Angeles and Sequim both qualified for the 2A state tournament and return the vast majority of their players. Kingston fell one game shy of the regional round and returns all five of its starters. It may not be the deepest league in the state, but there will be plenty of tough games ahead.
Before Monday’s game, Bainbridge celebrated its 1999 3A state championship team, which Gienger coached to a 29-0 record.
Gienger coached the Spartans for 18 seasons and won 301 games, retiring from the school in 2009. Her teams qualified for state seven times, placing fourth twice and winning one championship. Bainbridge knocked off Holy Names, Eastmont and Mount Vernon en route to the finals where they defeated Meadowdale 49-41 at the Kingdome for the 1999 title.
“It was super nice, and it was great to see the gals from the team,” Gienger said.