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Vikings clean up on the court
POULSBO — Sinking back-to-back-to-back buckets from downtown is a sure fire way to win a basketball game.
So is nabbing the lion’s share of rebounds, both offensive and defensive.
It also helps to have a senior-laiden roster with the likes of Brandon Huggins, Kyle Erickson and Taylor Hoffer.
After trailing the Bremerton Knights 28-21 at the half, the Vikings seemingly received a potent shot of pure-powered, basketball madness while in the locker room and returned to the hardwood looking like a team belonging in the NCAA’s Elite Eight.
During the second half of home action on Friday evening North outscored the Knights, 23-11 in the third and 17-13 in the fourth for the victory, 61-52.
“We just kept coming and we never slowed down,” head coach Tony Chisholm said. “We were scrappy and kept diving for loose balls and when you keep working like that things are bound to blow open for you.”
One minor addendum: North’s outside-the-paint shooting accuracy in the second half was hotter and more destructive than the Santa Ana winds.
It was down right jaw-dropping.
In the final 16 minutes Huggins swished, four of five three-pointers, Erickson rocked three of four buckets from downtown, Taylor Chisholm nailed one from no man’s land, and Hoffer monopolized the rebound arena.
“We knew (Erickson) had to carry us and he did, he made things happen. Brandon is a shooter and we have to get him the ball and he came through,” coach Chisholm said. “None of that was unexpected. They hit some key shots that turned the game around.”
As time wound down in the third quarter, Taylor Chisholm made a fast break layup to put the Vikes ahead, 33-32. Within seconds Erickson nailed the first in his string of three pointers, and then Huggins took over.
Huggins has got the goods on brilliant three-point shooting from the corners, sinking back-to-back buckets in what was an awesome display of high school basketball, and a very impressive and well executed close to the third quarter.
With seconds left on the clock and the Vikes leading in the third, 41-39, Erickson took his sweet time dribbling the ball down the court. With less than five seconds remaining Erickson passed to a wide open Huggins, positioned at the far right corner. Huggins paused, gained his composure and with three seconds on the clock sunk it to put the Vikes up 44-39 heading into the final eight minutes.
“My teammates did a really good job of driving the ball and giving me good shots,” Huggins said. “Every shot I shoot I think it’s going to go in. If it doesn’t the next one will.”
Erickson’s and Huggins’ three-point efforts secured the game for the Vikes. In the fourth as soon as the Knights would make a run, one of the two seniors answered with a three-pointer. Erickson put the Vikes back in control by three, then Huggins put the Vikes up by six and then by eight, and then it was game over.
Hoffer gracefully bulldozed under the basket to tally nine of the Vikes 31 rebounds and ensured the defensive game matched the offensive.
“It came at the right time of the game,” coach Chisholm said of Hoffer’s rebounding skills. “I’m a happy coach.”
Last year the Vikes capped their season just one game shy of the state tournament. This year the line up of 10 seniors and two juniors are hungry to see the courts at the Tacoma Dome in February.
Coach Chisholm said North has a target on their backs as they’re favored to win the league, which is a team goal, as is winning at state. But ultimately the strategy is to play one game at a time and then just play basketball “toward the state title.”
“It’s very important for us to get everybody involved, to see what every player can contribute and everybody to know their role,” coach Chisholm said. “I think we’ve made that happen.”
After all, “Together everyone achieves more,” is the Vikings’ motto.
On Thursday the Vikings travel to Central Kitsap, varsity at 7 p.m.