So close they can taste it

TACOMA — These boys are hungry and it’s almost dinnertime. After a disappointing 70-67 loss to Gig Harbor Friday night, the North Kitsap Vikings came back with a vengeance to defeat Mount Tahoma 57-36 on Saturday.

Friday night’s loss created a loser-out situation in the 4A West Central District tournament for the Vikes, who are but a mere two consecutive wins away from the prize: a berth to the state tournament.

“Oh, man, can I taste it. It’s already on my plate and ready be served up. They’re fired up,” said Head Coach Tony Chisholm. “It’s a big, juicy steak on the center of the plate but we’ve got to eat the side orders first. We know the steak is there.”

This is the first time in four years the Vikes have been this close to a berth to state.

The loss to Gig Harbor, by a mere three points, was a difficult one for the Vikes. Their next district game will be 7 p.m. tonight at Curtis High School. If they win this game, then they’ll play again at 6 p.m. Friday at Mount Tahoma. If they lose, they’ll play at 6 p.m. Friday night at Clover Park.

If the Vikes can pull off a win tonight and Friday, they’ll earn a trip to the state tournament. If they lose ... well, they don’t want to think about that at this point.

“We’re two wins in row away from the state tournament,” Chisholm said.

Just as he’s been preaching from his court pulpit all season, the team’s defense, mixed in with Taylor Hoffer’s and Kyle Erickson’s raw talent, is winning ball games.

It will be this way until the end of the season, which hopefully won’t come too soon. During a conversation with Central Kitsap Head Coach Tim Fryer after the win over Gig Harbor, Chisholm said there’s no way to prepare for a specific opponent at this point in the post-season play because every team is good.

“He asked me, ‘So coach, do you know who you’re playing?’ At this point, it doesn’t matter who we play. We’ve just got to bring our ‘A’ game. And our ‘A’ game starts with a ‘D,’ and that’s defense,” Chisholm said. “The bottom line is, defense is the story of basketball. At this point in the season, you have to crank it up to a different level, and we’re ready to do that.”

He’s honest with his team in that Hoffer, Erickson and Jordan Coover are carrying the team offensively, as they all have an uncanny ability to hit the basket from nearly anywhere on the court. “We’ve got a supporting cast. They know we’re going to ride their backs. The supporting cast can’t do it without them, and they can’t do it without the supporting cast,” Chisholm said.

“Kyle Erickson is very consistent. We always expect good things out of Eric because he’s consistent and he’s a quiet team leader,” Tony Chisholm said.

His defensive leader, Taylor Chisholm, hasn’t been a disappointment. While it’s not his job to get points, it is his job to get the ball into a scorer’s hands, and that he’s done well. Especially during the Mount Tahoma game.

“Taylor played a really good game,” Tony Chisholm said. “Chiz (Taylor Chisholm) led the game with assists. He’s playing point guard the way he should. He had five points and one point with 13 assists. He’s another piece of the human puzzle. It’s his job to pass the ball to Hoffer, Erickson and Coover.”

As for the team as a whole, “these boys are hungry,” Tony Chisholm said.

Jan. 9

North Kitsap 57, Mount Tahoma 36

Mount Tahoma 14 7 2 13 — 36

North Kitsap 19 18 9 11 — 57

Mount Tahoma — Geno Munoz 9, Joshua Lord 7, Tyrell Dixon 6, Sylvester Harris 6, Adrian Smitherman 5, John Barr 1, Demetrius Starks 2.

North Kitsap — Taylor Hoffer 25, Kyle Erickson 14, Jordan Coover 8, Kyle McCown 3, Evan Tidball 2, Bryan Woodman, Max Skelly 1, Brandon Huggins 1.

Jan. 8

Gig Harbor 70, North Kitsap 67

Gig Harbor 21 13 18 18 — 70

North Kitsap 21 13 18 18 — 67

Gig Harbor — Geoff McIntosh 29, Mathias Ward 20, Jake Pappuleas 9, Austin Jenkins 3, Milan Urban 3, Robbie Karamatic 2.

North Kitsap — Taylor Hoffer 24, Kyle Erickson 21, Jordan Coover 12, Kyle McCown 5, Bryan Woodman 2, Evan Tidball 2, Taylor Chisholm 1.

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