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Bucs survive long haul, head to districts | Girls basketball

Skyler Bakken, who returned this season after suffering a shoulder injury during the 2012-13 season, and the Buccaneers advance to the district tournament. - Kipp Robertson/ Herald
Skyler Bakken, who returned this season after suffering a shoulder injury during the 2012-13 season, and the Buccaneers advance to the district tournament.
— image credit: Kipp Robertson/ Herald

KINGSTON — It was near the beginning of the third game of the 2012-13 season and Skyler Bakken knew something was wrong with her shoulder.

After a previous shoulder injury during her time with a Suquamish Wolfpack basketball team in April 2012, Bakken was familiar with the pain she was experiencing. She wasn’t hopeful for her sophomore season with the Kingston Buccaneers varsity team.

“I knew right then I was done for the season,” she said.

Bakken, now a 17-year-old junior at Kingston High School, was told she had a tear in one of her shoulder joints. She had undergone six weeks of physical therapy before the 2012-13 season, and was now told she needed surgery. Bakken was out for six months.

About a month after surgery, Bakken’s family’s home burned down. The fire added to the pressure she was feeling at the time; along with not being able to play basketball, she was also studying for finals. However, everyone was supportive, she said.

A year later, things have turned around.

Bakken and her family are living in their rebuilt home. And the Kingston junior is able to do more than cheer for the Bucs from the bench.

Bakken has stepped onto the court at critical times for the team this season. Take the first game against the North Kitsap Vikings Jan. 10, for example. Behind by six in regulation, Bakken scored two 3-point shots to tie the game. It was a game that went into double-overtime. The Bucs won 63-31.

Bakken shoots “pretty solid 3’s,” Kingston head coach Gail Wicklein said. Wicklein said Bakken has improved her defense “tremendously.”

Bakken also scored a few critical 3-pointers against the Port Angeles Roughriders. The Riders single loss this season was to the Bucs.

Bakken plays about 16 minutes per game. She shot 121 points in the regular season, averaging 6.1 points per game. She averaged 2.4 rebounds, and has 25 assists, 15 steals, and six blocked shots.

“Skyler is a pivotal player coming off our bench — as in the big shot she hit during the first North game at Kingston,” Wicklein wrote to the Herald. “Since that game, she has consistently contributed to big shots for Kingston.

Her offense is crucial to our team success as she can hit those nail biting crucial shots at the right time. As our team is short — in number of players and height — she often plays out of her normal guard position without complaint. Our team recognizes that they all have to make contributions when and where they can.  Skyler is also an exceptional passer and sees the court well.”

The work Bakken and the Buccaneers did on the court during the regular season added up to this: they are the only basketball team from the North Kitsap School District to advance to the district tournament. The Bucs were one of four to qualify for districts from the Olympic League. They finished second, two games behind the Riders (15-1), and two games ahead of the Olympic Trojans (11-5)

The Bucs’ second-place finish earned them a first-round bye; they play at 7:45 p.m., Feb. 19, at Wilson High School. Five teams will advance to regionals.

It’s been a good season for the Bucs, which wasn’t completely expected.

The Bucs, which saw a lot of former varsity players graduate, also saw a high turnover of coaches. The team is in its third head coach in three years. Wicklein, however, has solid roots with the program; she coached the JV team up until she took over as head coach this season.

Since the beginning of the season the Bucs’ defense is what has made the difference, Kingston’s Drew Clark said. The Bucs knew what to expect the second time they played their league opponents, which aided their D.

“Our defense is one of the best defenses out there,” Clark said.

The Bucs had blowout-victories. They also had some close calls. Their first three games were nearly all identical in points (52-41, 52-41, 55-41). The closest game they played was a nail-biter against the North Kitsap Vikings, Jan. 10, which ended in a 63-61 victory in double overtime.

The Bucs ended their season on a seven-game win streak. Their final game of the regular season against the Klahowya Eagles, Feb. 11, ended 60-22. The other teams advancing are the Riders, Olympic Trojans, and Sequim Wolves.

“I’m proud of our team,” Bakken said, adding that the odds weren’t necessarily in the Bucs’ favor this season. “But we’re doing good.

“We’ve grown stronger,” she later added. “We had our ups and downs. As the season went on, we found our way.”

Bakken’s shoulder still bothers her occasionally. If she overworks it, such as shooting too much during practice, it feels like a pinched nerve, she said. However, the 3-point shooter will just have to put her injury on ice for the time being, because the Buccaneers are heading to postseason.

 

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