PORTLAND – Took a few tweaks to make Jonas La Tour feel comfortable playing with a 3-point NBA line, a pitch 10 feet wider than usual, a widened key and the cavernous backdrop of thousands of seats cascading in the background of each shot.
But it certainly didn’t show.
The senior to the Pacific from Seattle scored 31 points and struck out 14 boards to lead a North Kitsap team playing in mid-season form to a 72-51 victory over Kelso on Saturday at the Moda Center in Portland, on the same Damian floor. Lillard hit a streak- winning 3 to send the Oklahoma City Thunder into a rebuild and Brandon Roy led a playoff comeback against the Dallas Mavericks.
âI’m confident I’m shooting from anywhere, whatever the terrain,â said La Tour. “I’m just going to stop and if it’s open, shoot it.”
After winning a state championship in 2020, the last time there was one in Washington, North Kitsap returns to the 2A favorite at the start of the season, according to SBLiveCoaches Survey 2A. And they did nothing to suggest otherwise.
The Vikings (5-0) have a squad full of great athletic guards – apparently any can score, starting with La Tour. But at the start of La Tour, there is not much fall.
âWe can play in any position,â La Tour said. âWe can keep every position. The coach knows it. We know that.”
Kelso coach Joe Kinch added, âThey’re so good in transition because you have to keep them one on one and keep them one on one is so difficult. They were 6 out of 10 in the first half against 3, and I swear the 3 were all behind the pro line. When they can space the floor that way and shoot the ball that way, they’re a great team. “
They are returning most of its core from a group that went 14-2 in the COVID-shortened spring season and added three impact pieces. Aidan Olmstead, a 6-foot-4 senior, returns after moving to Georgia to play a season of basketball when sports in Washington were closed.
Harry Davies, a 6-foot-2 sophomore who scored 10 points on Saturday, has shown great promise as a goalscorer and defenseman on the ball, and head coach Scott Orness enjoys the junior goalie’s early contributions. Jalen East after leaving California.
âAnyone can have a big night out,â La Tour said. “The good thing is we’re not mad at ourselves, we’re not upset if one of us has a bad night, everyone contributes every gameâ¦ that’s what makes us so tight, so hard to beat. We don’t care, we’re going to get a ring and that’s our only state of mind.
La Tour has taken its leadership role to heart.
âI don’t feel pressure, I feel responsibility, however,â he said.
He’s bulkier, more athletic and polished than he was in his sophomore from the Vikings’ 2A state title group. And he’s playing with the pain from a broken spine and pinched vertebrae that he thinks he suffered for the first time after falling on his back after a dunk in the spring.
He led Seattle Rotary’s top 17U team at the start of Nike EYBL’s Peach Jam in July, considered the nation’s top baseline basketball tournament. But back pain forced him to take an early return flight, which some say cost him the appearance of Division I.
The Tower couldn’t move much for three weeks and spent a good part of the summer in physiotherapy. He still plays with severe back pain, but he’s learned.
For La Tour, playing in pain is a small price to pay.
âHe didn’t disappoint,â Kinch said. âHe’s really hard to protect because of the way he shoots and physically he’s hard to protect from dribbling like we thought. “