The end of December is typically a quiet time in the world of high school sports. Most teams are either out of town for a holiday tournament or just practicing for the big winter season push that takes up the early months of the new year.
That means it’s time for me to take a look back on another year of the trials, tribulations and triumphs, and the blood, sweat and tears our prep athletes shed in pursuit of excellence.
Obviously, 2020 has been anything but ordinary. It’s hard to believe that the last proper sporting event I covered was over nine months ago — the West Sound All-Star basketball game in the Olympic College gym. It was not long after the North Kitsap boys basketball team capped an incredible season winning the 2A state championship game — the first boys hoops title in Kitsap County in 37 years.
But what is extraordinary is the number of memorable performances and games despite having just 10 weeks of action to choose from in 2020.
Of course, nothing could top North Kitsap’s run at the Yakima SunDome. The Vikings had struggled in the weeks leading up to state. They lost to Lindbergh in the district championship game and then lost their regional game against Tumwater. In the two games, North Kitsap was a combined 2-for-33 from the 3-point line.
Their high seed kept them from getting bounced out of the state tournament, but it put them on a tougher road. After knocking off Selah in Round 1, the Vikings managed just 13 points in the first half against White River. They scored 30 points in the third quarter and ended up routing the Hornets 64-43.
They faced another deficit in the semifinals against two-time defending champion and top-seeded Lynden. A 29-9 run in the fourth quarter, buoyed by a perfect 10-for-10 shooting performance from the field, completed a comeback for the ages just six days removed from their regional loss.
After that win, finding the words to describe what I was seeing became increasingly difficult. It was an astonishing turnaround. The Vikings clinched their first-ever state trophy with a 56-53 win over Clarkston in the final.
I don’t think anything could top that run, but North Kitsap does have a close second from the brief 2020 winter season.
Senior wrestler Holly Beaudoin entered her fourth Mat Classic with three prior second- place finishes and was hoping to finally have a breakthrough in a finals match.
Beaudoin had been more aggressive throughout the tourney and waltzed into the 120 finals on the strength of three-consecutive pins. She was in control for her entire three minute, 31 second match against Maizy Feltwell of Liberty and led 9-0 when Beaudoin pinned her for the victory. Her friend and teammate Kenzie Cormier also won her finals match, giving the North Kitsap girls team two state champions.
Returning to the hardwood for a moment, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention perhaps the best individual performance of the winter.
That honor goes to Colby White of Central Kitsap, who willed his team to the Tacoma Dome with a 35-point performance against Shorecrest at regionals. I don’t think there was a player who meant more to his team this year than White, who was one of only two seniors guiding a young Cougar team that earned its first state playoff berth since 2004. He was a big reason why CK improved upon its regular season record a year ago and went further in the postseason despite losing four starters.
We also had plenty of great races at the pool this year. Anytime Bainbridge heads to the 3A state meet in Federal Way, you know you’re going to see some fast swims. And although the Spartans fell short of capturing their fourth-consecutive state title, they battled rival Mercer Island all the way to the end.
Jude Wenker set a 3A state meet record in the 200- yard freestyle and also won the 100-yard free to lead his team to a second= place finish.
Olympic’s Dietrich Meyer also continued his journey to becoming one of the best sprinters in West Sound history with his third- consecutive titles in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.