North Kitsap girls off to a rough start

POULSBO — Just six games into the season, the North Kitsap High School girls basketball team has already had a rough year.

With just a single win, North Kitsap Head Coach Bill Hobaugh said he doesn’t expect many more until the second half of the season.

“Every game we’ve played has been tough,” Hobaugh said Tuesday of the 2009-2010 season. “We haven’t had an easy game yet.”

The Port Angeles Roughriders blew out the Vikings at home Tuesday, 71-32. Port Angeles junior Jessica Madison had 28 points to lead the scoring. Twenty-three of those came in the first half.

Hobaugh said he expects it to be a rebuilding year.

“Our goal is to peak in the end of January and in February,” he said.

Hobaugh said he believes it will take that long for the girls to hit their collective stride because most of them are young and have not played together prior to this season. The Viking starting lineup includes three sophomores and just two seniors. The rest of the bench is made up almost entirely of sophomores.

On Tuesday, North Kitsap faced a stronger, faster, taller and more experienced Port Angeles squad. Constant pressure from the Roughrider defense forced a whopping 35 turnovers by the Vikings, 19 in the first half.

Port Angeles’ size — five players are 5-foot-10 or taller — also allowed them to out-rebound the Vikings. The second chances and put-backs added up, and by halftime the Roughriders had outscored the Vikings 48-11.

But it wasn’t just the Roughrider defense or size that caused Viking mistakes. Throughout the game, North Kitsap repeatedly missed passes and dropped balls, which also led to turnovers. When the Vikings did get chances at the basket, they had trouble sinking them. Senior guard Lauryn Blevins said one of the team’s problems is a lack of aggressiveness on offense.

“Whenever we’re on offense, we like to stay in one spot,” she said. “We need to be aggressive and drive to the hoop.”

Hobaugh added that, with a team of relatively small, inexperienced players, it can be a challenge to play with confidence.

“Some of them don’t even know their potential,” he said.

Hobaugh said that if his team merely believed in the potential he sees in them, their play would likely improve.

“If we all did that, we’d be great,” he said.

Hobaugh said many of the Viking players are feeling both physically and mentally drained by the difficulties they have faced this season. Blevins said she tries to look at the challenges positively, and learn from them.

“I just try to encourage my team as much as I can,” she said. “Our motto is to have fun, but not to the point we’re just goofing around. We need to take from what we learned today and we need to make sure we’re all working hard.”

The Vikings face another tough opponent Friday, when they take on district rival Kingston (3-2). Play starts at 7 p.m. at Kingston High.

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