Sports

CK edges NK in exciting boys hoops battle

By AARON MANAGHAN

Sports editor

No matter how much the two basketball teams tried to avoid it, they couldn’t.

While there were several players to take the court in Friday’s boys hoops game between Central Kitsap and North Kitsap, many were focused on two particular standouts.

Standing 6 feet, 7 inches each, Central Kitsap’s Brandon Durham and North Kitsap’s Taylor Hoffer were the main attraction Friday, whether they, their coaches or anyone else wanted them to be or not.

“We’ve got to play within our system and what we do,” Vikings coach Tony Chisholm said. “This isn’t about the Taylor Hoffer-Brandon Durham show.”

And while that was what the fans wanted to see, the game itself came down to two tough team efforts, not to be overshadowed by the game’s two big men.

After CK built a 14-point lead at the end of the third quarter, the Vikings came back late, but not quite enough as Central Kitsap (5-0) remained undefeated with a 63-58 win.

“I’m still breathing,” CK coach Tim Fryer said. “Barely.”

Opening the fourth quarter on a 19-4 run, the Vikings (3-1) took their first lead at 55-54 with about 4 minutes to play. Central Kitsap tied it back up on a Durham free throw, regaining the lead just 20 seconds later on a Phillip Thomas three-pointer to jump up 58-55. And while NK tied it up at 58-58, CK got ahead with a Thomas free throw and stayed ahead as the Vikings were forced to start fouling.

“It feels good,” Durham said. “A win’s a win, but it kind of feels like we lost. They’re a good team though. It’s a good win.”

“It was good,” Hoffer said. “We worked really hard. There’s nothing you can do about that. Just win it next time.”

While their heights made them the center of attention on the court, it was backed up by strong play. Durham finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds, also getting two big blocks. Hoffer had a game-high 20 points, many of which came during North’s run, also adding 16 boards.

And while it’s a rivalry on the court for the two posts, it’s routed in friendship.

Hoffer and Durham were teammates for a 3-4 years playing for Westside Hoops. Both said they still hang out outside of the game.

“It’s definitely competitive,” Durham said. “We’ve known each other for a little while now. We hang out together, talk about our seasons.”

“It’s fun,” Hoffer added. “He’s a good player. We play together a lot outside of school ball. We just try to make each other better.”

From being teammates, both players have an idea of what the other likes to do.

“We know what moves each other’s gonna do,” Hoffer said. “I know he’s gonna do his drop step and he knows I’m gonna do my spin move.”

That just makes both want to step it up even more.

“All the students are like, ‘It’s Brandon Durham versus Taylor Hoffer,’” Durham said. “I try to (block it out). But whenever I see him it just comes back. ‘I’ve got to perform tonight.’”

While the spotlight may have been on the two towers, there were several key players that stole bits and pieces of it throughout the game.

North Kitsap’s Jordan Coover scored 13 while Kyle Erickson added 12 for the Vikings. On CK’s side, Thomas was big, leading the Cougars with 18 including some big shots late in the game. Cody Thurmond had another strong game for CK with 12 points and Andrew Shearer added 10.

“(Phillip) was very big tonight,” Fryer said. “Very big. Phillip played great.”

While the game started out big for CK, with the Cougars opening up a 22-13 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to a 6-0 run to close the frame, Chisholm said he was happy with his team’s fight.

“I’m very proud,” Chisholm said. “I told the guys, ‘You have nothing to hang your head about.’”

Making things tough for Chisholm is that most of his players are football players first, hoops players second.

“But you know what? They’re good athletes,” Chisholm said. “We’re going to continue to get better. On the other hand, CK, they’ve got a good team, but they’ve got all basketball players. They’re really good.”

But Chisholm said that was no excuse.

“Give CK credit,” he said. “They’ve got good coaching. They’ve got great basketball players.”

Fryer said he was surprised not with the Vikings coming back, but rather with the fact his team was able to jump out to such a large lead.

“I think this is nice,” he said of the win. “This is a good team. I thought it’d be closer all the way. I was kind of surprised we got that lead on them.”

While CK is undefeated, the Cougs have some close wins. But Durham said that only improves the team.

“It definitely gives us confidence,” he said. “It’s shows us we can deal with adversity.”

As for the Vikings, Chisholm said the loss opened some people’s eyes as well.

“These kids have got fight,” he said of his team. “They don’t quit. I’m telling you this: We’re just getting started.”

The Cougars are back in action Wednesday when they travel to Stadium for a 7 p.m. game. CK is on the road Friday as well against Mount Tahoma.

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