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Boys basketball: 2010 Wolves long on promise, short on experience
Date Opponent Time
Today at Olympia 7 p.m.
Wednesday at Shelton 7 p.m.
Friday Stadium 7 p.m.
Dec. 28 Sammamish* TBA
Dec. 29 TBA* TBA
Dec. 30 TBA* TBA
Jan. 5 at Bellarmine Prep 7 p.m.
Jan. 7 at Central Kitsap 7 p.m.
Jan. 12 at Gig Harbor 7 p.m.
Jan. 14 at Mount Tahoma 7 p.m.
Jan. 19 Olympia 7 p.m.
Jan. 21 Shelton 7 p.m.
Jan. 26 at Stadium 7 p.m.
Jan. 28 Bellarmine Prep 7 p.m.
Feb. 2 Central Kitsap 5:15 p.m.
Feb. 4 Gig Harbor 7 p.m.
Feb. 9 Mount Tahoma 5:15 p.m.
* Les Schwab Christmas Classic games at Bellevue College
Coach: John Callaghan, 13th season (208-91).
Key returner: G Nars Martinez, 6-2, jr.
Top newcomers: W Aaron La Deaux, 6-2, jr.; W Kellen Traxel, 6-0, so.
Key departures: G Isaiah Davis, 5-9, sr.; W Leon La Deaux, 6-3, graduated; P Joey Osinski, 6-6, graduated.
It is a word that South Kitsap boys basketball coach John Callaghan is intimately familiar with.
Two years ago, Callaghan had a pair of sophomores — point guard Isaiah Davis and forward Tre Haslom — that appeared to be centerpieces in what could be the Wolves’ next great basketball team.
“When they came in, those were two pretty hot commodities for us,” Callaghan said.
But Haslom, who became a starter midway through the 2008-09 season, transferred after that year to Lakewood High School in Snohomish County. Davis remained at South, but elected not to turn out for basketball this season.
“I think it’s unfortunate for him,” Callaghan said. “I think it’s an experience he’s going to regret because it’s a good time and you don’t get to do this your whole life.”
The result is one of the youngest squads of Callaghan’s 13-year tenure. It is not that the Wolves are lacking for seniors — five played in the season-opening 58-45 win last week against Yelm — but none have significant varsity experience. Despite that, three 12th-graders, point guard Steven Ebner, post Colin Gallagher and wing Michael Powell, started against the Tornados.
“Steven Ebner has worked hard,” Callaghan said. “Steven’s going to have a good year.”
The only returning starter for South, which had a 7-13 record and was 4-11 in Narrows League play last season, is junior guard Nars Martinez. The half-brother of Jake Beitinger, a standout post for the Wolves who later starred at Central Washington University, Martinez led the team in scoring last season and scored a game-high 32 points in a 75-57 loss Saturday at Foss.
“Nars is going to be an all-league player,” Callaghan said.
Martinez said despite the roster turnover, one significant difference between this season and last one is that the players get along. There was an altercation between two former players on campus last season, and Callaghan said team chemistry was the weakest of his tenure.
“We have good chemistry this year,” Martinez said. “That’s the difference. Our chemistry last year wasn’t good.”
Martinez said he has taken on a leadership role this season and that he likes what he has saw from the sophomore class in the offseason. Four 10th-graders — post James Hyson, guards Devon Newquist and Thomas Simpson and wing Kellen Traxel — played in the opener.
“All of our sophomores can play,” Callaghan said. “There’s not a lot of fear in them.”
That showed against Yelm when Traxel hit a 3-pointer with 1 minutes, 47 seconds remaining to give the Wolves a 48-42 lead.
“For a sophomore to even shoot that 3 in the fourth quarter — with the game on the line — he can play,” Callaghan said.
South also features the younger brothers of two former starters in 6-foot-2 juniors Devonte Longmire and Aaron La Deaux. Longmire’s older brother, Mike, averaged a team-high 13.8 points per game in 2008-09. La Deaux’s brother, Leon, started for the Wolves last season and now is playing football as a freshman at Central Washington University.
“I think probably one of the more pleasant surprises is Aaron La Deaux,” Callaghan said. “He’s aggressive and athletic.”
He said younger players will see plenty of time, whether it comes on varsity or junior varsity. Hyson was an example of that last week as he played two quarters on both teams against Yelm.
“I want our young guys to play four quarters,” Callaghan said. “You’re not going to get any better by sitting.”
Martinez, who followed the Wolves as they advanced to the Class 4A state tournament every year from 2001-06, called last season “really tough.” It was the first losing mark in Callaghan’s tenure.
This season might not be much different from that standpoint, and Callaghan did not schedule weak nonleague games to artificially inflate the team’s record. That includes Saturday’s game at Foss and Wednesday against Lincoln, which advanced to the 4A state tournament last season. Both now play in the 3A Narrows.
While South might struggle this season, Callaghan expects those games and the Dec. 28-30 Les Schwab Christmas Classic at Bellevue Community College to benefit his team in the future.
“It will be nice next year that we’re young (this season),” Callaghan said. “We’re going to have some growing pains — there’s no doubt.”