Sports

Girls basketball: South Kitsap beats Cougars to clinch playoff spot

South Kitsap’s Jackie Steiger plays in-your-face defense against a Central Kitsap ball-handler during the Wolves’ 68-36 win on Wednesday night. - Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo
South Kitsap’s Jackie Steiger plays in-your-face defense against a Central Kitsap ball-handler during the Wolves’ 68-36 win on Wednesday night.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo

It is difficult to envision a much better Senior Night than South Kitsap girls basketball team had Wednesday night.

The Wolves (15-3 overall, 9-3 league) not only clinched a Class 4A West Central/Southwest District playoff berth, but dominated a rival in the process with a 68-36 win against Central Kitsap.

It is the first time anyone on South’s roster has defeated the Cougars (9-7, 5-6). The Wolves lost 63-56 on Jan. 17 at CK, which was their 15th consecutive loss in the series since it resumed on at least an annual basis during the 2001-02 season.

“It feels really good,” South senior guard Angela Romonsky said. “We didn’t want to lose to them. Especially on Senior Night.”

Romonsky played a significant part in that. She converted 5 of 10 3-pointers en route to a game-high 20 points.

Outside shooting was a significant part of the Wolves’ success. After the Cougars took an early 2-1 lead, senior point guard Kelsey Callaghan, who is considering Oregon’s George Fox University and Montana Western, responded with a 3-pointer to give South the lead for good. Callaghan and Romonsky each converted a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter to give South an 18-7 lead entering the second period.

The shooting prowess did not end there. South coach Mark Lutzenhiser said he knew his team was in a good position when Romonsky’s fourth 3-pointer of the first half rattled around the rim before falling. That put the Wolves ahead 34-14 with 2 minutes, 14 seconds left in the half. South led by at least 20 points for nearly the duration of the game.

But it was not all offense.

The Cougars converted just 4 of 24 field goals during the first half and trailed 36-14 at halftime.

“They’re probably a better shooting team than us, which is hard to believe,” Lutzenhiser said. “If you give kids open looks in this day and age they’re going to knock down the three.”

He referenced the previous game against CK when the Cougars had four double-digit scorers. Only guard Krista Stabler, who had 11 points, had that many for CK this time. Unlike the previous meeting, Lutzenhiser employed a full-court press and mixed zone and man-to-man defenses to stymie the Cougars.

“Our goal was to hold them under 50,” he said. “We had to cover them because we knew we didn’t do a good job (last time).”

South can clinch second place in 4A Narrows with victories in its last two games. The Wolves play Friday at Gig Harbor and then finish the regular season Wednesday at Mount Tahoma. They share identical league records with the Thunderbirds, whom South defeated 47-46 on Jan. 14.

Since their loss at CK, the Wolves have won 6 of their last 7 games. Their only loss during that span was a 60-53 setback Friday at Bellarmine Prep. Lutzenhiser said his team’s success against the Cougars was simple.

“We just played good defense and scored when we needed to,” he said. “This is the time we want to start playing well.”

Wednesday

At South Kitsap 68, Central Kitsap 36

Central Kitsap 7 7 12 10 — 36

South Kitsap 18 18 18 14 — 68

Central Kitsap-Brittany Zawadzki 3, Leslie Guzman 2, Demi Holbrook 1, Maggie Coleman 0, Krista Stabler 11, Lindsey Simonis 9, Kirsten Anthony 6, Jenna Warner 2, Gwen Ryno 0, Logan LaFontaine 2.

South Kitsap-Kelsey Callaghan 9, Amy Bakalarski 0, Ali Davis 5, Angela Romonsky 20, Carly Bakalarski 0, Jackie Steiger 7, Taylor Sunkel 14, Maile Keanu 3, Dana Goularte 9, Jen Hale 1.

Friday

At Bellarmine Prep 60, South Kitsap 53

South Kitsap 16 7 13 17 — 53

Bellarmine Prep 18 20 9 13 — 60

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