Cheney Free Press -


Blackhawks bow out of state against North Kitsap


Justace Reiter

In the end, it was North Kitsap's length and scoring ability that stood in the way of the Cheney High boys basketball team's chance at a second consecutive playoff upset.

The Vikings, with five seniors and more height in the back court than the front, used a 14-4 third-quarter run to put some distance between themselves and the Blackhawks en route to a 68-50 state 2A regional playoff win last Saturday at Rogers High School in Puyallup. North Kitsap, which has advanced to the regional round for three straight years and finished sixth last year at state, was 7 for 10 from the field in the third, 56 percent overall for the game.

By contrast, Cheney shot 36 percent overall; 30 percent from the 3-point line and was 7 for 22 from twos through the first three quarters before going 4 for 5 in the fourth. Head coach Gregg Smith said the Blackhawks made another run at the Vikings in the final eight minutes, only to be stymied by the 10th-ranked 2A team's 4 for 6 effort from beyond the arc.

"Every time we tried to make a little run, they hit a big basket," Smith said. "That's what state experienced teams do."

Despite North Kitsap's height - three players at 6-feet-4-inches and two at 6-5, three of whom play guard - Cheney didn't do too badly in rebounding, getting out boarded 37-26 and 12-9 on the offensive glass. And while the Blackhawks committed a respectable 11 turnovers, the Vikings had just six.

Besides not shooting as well, Smith said North Kitsap's 1-­­­2-2 zone defense was also a factor, again with their tall guards giving Cheney a hard time initiating its offense.

"We need to find a way to fight through teams like that (taller)," Smith said.

Senior Justace Reiter led the Blackhawks in scoring with 19 points, with Jake Berman adding 10 and Devon Cook nine. North Kitsap senior guard Zac Olmstead led all scorers with 23 points, with 6-5 senior guard Kai Warren adding 16 and 6-4 sophomore guard Shaa Humphrey 12 to go with 12 rebounds.

Cheney finishes the season 10-14 overall, but with its deepest playoff run in 10 years. The last time the Blackhawks advanced out of districts was 2008 when the Ryan Fitzgerald-coached team reached the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome, finishing seventh.

"I think overall, it was a really good first step for us," Smith said. "I think we're heading in a good direction."

Cheney will lose Reiter and senior forward Mason Beck to graduation, but stands to return an experienced team that includes 2018 juniors Jake and Nick Berman, Cook, Camden VerStrate and Thomas Baycroft.

John McCallum can be reached at


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