Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Port Angeles’ Parker Nickerson, right, outpaces North Mason’s Clay Alverts in Port Angeles’ last home game in December.

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Port Angeles’ Parker Nickerson, right, outpaces North Mason’s Clay Alverts in Port Angeles’ last home game in December.

PIERRE LaBOSSIERE COLUMN: Fingers crossed for Port Angeles-North Kitsap rivalry to renew

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that on Saturday, we finally get to see Port Angeles and North Kitsap play basketball.

This has been an anticipated game for weeks now. It was postponed a few weeks ago due to COVID cases. It could be postponed again Saturday. You never know.

But confidence remains high.

Unfortunately, due to the seriously high infection rate right now, members of the public won’t be allowed in the gym to watch this monster matchup. You can still watch online at 3 p.m. Saturday on the NFHS Network at https://tinyurl.com/bde7y344.

North Kitsap is the No. 2-ranked Rating Percentage Index team in the state, while Port Angeles is ranked No. 12.

North Kitsap has only lost one game all year (11-1 overall, 6-0 in the Olympic 2A League) and has scored 90 or more points four times. The Vikings include all-state performer Jonas La Tour, who will be playing college basketball next year.

But I honestly think the Roughriders have a chance against North Kitsap. Port Angeles is very good, with a lot of size in 6-foot-10 John Vaara and 6-5 Wyatt Dunning. They also play ferocious defense, led by Xander Maestas and Parker Nickerson, as all of their opponents can tell you, relying on steals and turnovers to get a lot of easy fast-break baskets much like the old Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. The Riders have given up 37 or fewer points in three of their wins.

Port Angeles is also unbeaten in league at 5-0. They’re 6-3 overall, but the Riders scheduled an exceptionally tough nonleague slate this year, which helps the team’s RPI. All three of Port Angeles’ losses came against 4A schools.

Here’s one very intriguing stat. It doesn’t prove anything, but it sure is interesting.

North Kitsap has lost one game all year. To a 4A school, Jackson. The score of that game was 71-70.

Jackson, which has a 10-2 record, is also one of the 4A schools that beat Port Angeles. The score of that game? Jackson 65, Port Angeles 61.

Wow, that really raises eyebrows. Similar results against a very good 4A school.

Port Angeles and North Kitsap have had a heated basketball rivalry for a few years now, with the Riders holding their own with the powerhouse Vikings. The Riders (9-1) edged North Kitsap (8-2) in a truncated 2021 season.

North Kitsap went 11-1 in 2019 and Port Angeles 10-2 in 2020, with North Kitsap going on to win the 2A state championship that year.

The Riders (12-1) won a playoff over the Vikings (11-2) in 2019 to take the Olympic 2A League title and the Vikings (11-1) got the better of the Riders (9-3) in 2017.

What a rivalry this has become. Since 2017, North Kitsap is a combined 47-6 in league, while Port Angeles is 45-7.

We can hope that rivalry will finally get a chance to resume Saturday. I can’t wait.

________

Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at [email protected]

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