Port Angeles’ Isaiah Shamp aims for the rim as North Kitsap’s Jordan Williams defends the lane on Tuesday night at Port Angeles High School. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles’ Isaiah Shamp aims for the rim as North Kitsap’s Jordan Williams defends the lane on Tuesday night at Port Angeles High School. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

BOYS BASKETBALL: Roughriders take North Kitsap to the end in thriller

PORT ANGELES — The overwhelming urge for parents and friends to hug the Port Angeles boys basketball players as they exited their locker room was understandable.

Those Roughriders had just gone toe-to-toe with North Kitsap, state power and Olympic League rival, coming one possession short in a 76-71 defeat at the Roughriders Gym Tuesday night.

With 6-foot-3 Parker Nickerson draped on him defensively, Vikings senior point guard Cade Orness drained the go-ahead and eventual game-winning 3-pointer with 23.1 seconds to play.

Down 74-71, Port Angeles was unable to get off a shot on its final possession, as tight defense by North Kitsap forced a Riders’ turnover — a sudden ending to a classic high school basketball game.

“That’s about as good as it gets for high school basketball at the 2A level,” coach Kasey Ulin said.

“Our message is the same thing it’s been all year: to continue to improve and continue to grow. We’re on a trajectory of getting better. North was probably 30 points better than us two months ago. We were one possession away from them on Jan. 30. So we want to come to practice tomorrow and get better and be open to grow. If we can be open to grow and pay attention to the details and discipline and be able to execute a little better, finish possessions a little better.

“But I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of a team. North Kitsap is the best team in the state and we continued to fight and the kids played their tails off.”

The Riders and Vikings exchanged the lead three times ,in the final quarter and tied the game four times alone in the final frame as each team answered the other offensively and defensively.

Isaiah Shamp hit some of his biggest baskets of the game in the fourth, tying the game at 62-all when he converted inside off an Ezra Townsend assist, stepping out from the post to cash a long two-point jumper and working inside for an up-and-under lay-in with a high degree of difficulty.

Shamp led all scorers with 25 points. Nickerson added 23 while alternately guarded by 6-foot-5 Trey Carter’s condor-like wing span, 6-foot-4 NCAA prospect Harry Davies and Orness.

“Isaiah Shamp was unbelievable,” Ulin said. “Parker battled all night long. They were really trying to take him away all night and they competed really hard.”

Down 30-17 in the second quarter, Port Angeles switched out of man-to-man defense and into a zone and quickly made up the difference, pulling within 36-34 at halftime.

“They have so much firepower and are so good defensively, they got on us early and I thought our offensive decision making allowed them to get six or eight layups,” Ulin said. “But in the second quarter, we were able to defend better, get higher percentage shots. We were switching defenses all game long. We threw the kitchen sink at them.”

Port Angeles also saw a strong performance by sophomore point guard Gus Halberg, tasked with matching up with North Kitsap’s guards including Orness, who has a Central Washington scholarship offer in hand and a preferred walk-on invitation at Gonzaga.

Halberg drained a huge second-half 3-pointer and had 12 points.

Port Angeles (8-3, 12-6) dropped into third place behind North Kitsap (11-0, 15-3) and Bremerton (8-3, 15-2) with three games to play. The Riders host Kingston (2-10, 4-14) at 7 p.m. today.

“Hopefully the next time we see [North Kitsap] we have improved even more, and the next time we would see them it would mean we are in a really meaningful game [district or state tournament],” Ulin said.

North Kitsap 76, Port Angeles 71

NK 22 16 18 20 — 76

PA 13 21 20 17 — 71

North Kitsap (76) — Orness 18, Hudson 15, Davies 13, Chmielewski 10, Carter 8, Williams 7, Keehn 5.

Port Angeles (71) — Shamp 25, Nickerson 23, Halberg 12, Albaugh 7, Dunning 2, Townsend 2, Angevine.

Port Angeles’ Parker Nickerson, left, is swarmed by North Kitsap’s Cade Orness, center and Logan Hudson during Tuesday’s game at Port Angeles High School. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles’ Parker Nickerson, left, is swarmed by North Kitsap’s Cade Orness, center and Logan Hudson during Tuesday’s game at Port Angeles High School. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles’ Gus Halberg, right, lets the ball get away from him as he sweeps past North Kitsap’s Preston Keehn on Tuesday night in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles’ Gus Halberg, right, lets the ball get away from him as he sweeps past North Kitsap’s Preston Keehn on Tuesday night in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles’ Kason Albaugh, left, searches for a way around the defense of North Kitsap’s Preston Keehn on Tuesday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles’ Kason Albaugh, left, searches for a way around the defense of North Kitsap’s Preston Keehn on Tuesday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles’ Dallas Dunning, right, watches a ball drift out of bounds as North Kitsap’s Logan Hudson defends the lane on Tuesday at Port Angeles High School. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles’ Dallas Dunning, right, watches a ball drift out of bounds as North Kitsap’s Logan Hudson defends the lane on Tuesday at Port Angeles High School. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

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