Vikings share Oly League crown with three others

North Kitsap guard Brandon Huggins reaches for the ball during action against the North Mason Bulldogs Tuesday.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
North Kitsap guard Brandon Huggins reaches for the ball during action against the North Mason Bulldogs Tuesday.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

BELFAIR — The North Kitsap boys basketball team is caught in a three-way tie for the Olympic League title after a 55-52 loss at North Mason Tuesday night.

The Vikings, along with North Mason and Port Townsend, finished 14-2 in league play, and will each share a portion of the crown. Port Townsend boasts the best overall record, at 18-2, followed by North Mason at 17-3, and North Kitsap at 16-4.

The Vikings came to a packed-out Doghouse Tuesday with the intention of taking sole possession of the league title. But the Bulldogs had no desire to lie down and take second place.

“Our goal was to come here and win the title,” said NKHS boys basketball coach Tony Chisholm. “But we’re OK. We’ll share the title.”

The Bulldogs’ Brett Skogstad topped all scorers Tuesday with 22 points. His teammate, Rocky Guimont, added 17. Taylor Hoffer led the Vikings with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Brandon Huggins tallied 16 points of his own.

“Brett did what he’s been doing all year,” Hoffer said. “Our guards played great, but he dictates where the defense is going to go.”

Both sides fought a tough defensive battle, but the Bulldogs managed to stay ahead of the Vikings for most of the game. North Kitsap led by two at halftime, and briefly pulled in front during the third quarter, but the Bulldogs quickly caught up and retook the lead. With one minute left in the third, Skogstad sank a 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs up by seven, tying their largest lead of the night.

In the fourth quarter, the Vikings turned up the heat, using a full court press to try and force a Bulldog mistake. But the North Mason offense would not be assuaged.

“You can’t say what you could have done better,” Chisholm said after the game. “They made baskets, we didn’t.”

A number of controversial calls against both teams had fans and coaches on both sides of the gymnasium on their feet and in a tizzy during the closing minutes. Each team went to the line multiple times in the final 60 seconds, thickening and prolonging the tension.

With 43 ticks on the clock, North Kitsap’s Kyle Erickson scored a jumper and the ensuing free throw to bring the Vikings within one. Twenty seconds later, Skogstad, who had gone off the court with an ankle injury just minutes earlier, came back and sank two from the charity stripe, making it 53-49 in his team’s favor. Hoffer answered by hitting from behind the arc, again making it a one-point game. North Mason’s Dashiell Geyer then went to the line and made it 55-52 with five seconds left.

As the game drew to a frenzied close, the Viking bench tried to call a timeout, but officials were unable to stop play before Hoffer missed a would-be game tying three and the buzzer sounded.

“We’ve just got to look past it,” said Huggins. “We’ve just got to look forward to districts.”

North will next face either Capital or North Thurston Tuesday in a sub-district playoff game.

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