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Boys basketball: Wolves survive another Stadium rally
Even during the holidays, it is uncommon to go a dozen days between games.
But that is the prospect South Kitsap faced.
And it often showed during Wednesday’s 47-44 win against Stadium in Class 4A Narrows League play.
Similar to many teams, the Wolves had games at Olympia and Shelton postponed last week because of snow. They returned to the practice court Saturday, but coach John Callaghan said game intensity is a little different.
That particularly showed at the free-throw line, where South made just 5 of 15 attempts, as it struggled to close out its third consecutive win. Statistician Don Wilson said it was the Wolves’ worst performance from the stripe in his decade in that role.
“We’ve got to make our free throws,” Callaghan said. “That’s going to become more and more important.”
The Wolves (9-5 overall, 5-3 league) also shot just 33 percent from the field, including 2 of 17 on 3-pointers.
“When you don’t play, you lose that momentum,” Callaghan said. “Fatigue comes into play.”
Energy was not an issue on the defensive end where South limited the Tigers (2-13, 2-7) to 34 percent shooting. Callaghan said he particularly was concerned about the outside shooting prowess of Eric Anderson-Connolly and Patrick Minzel, but Stadium converted just 3 of 15 3-pointers. Those two combined for 17 points.
“For the most part, we played really good defense,” Callaghan said. “We were disciplined.”
That enabled the Wolves to overcome an early deficit when senior guard Nars Martinez, who had a game-high 19 points, scored on a drive with 2:12 minutes left in the first half to give South an 18-17 lead. They extended that advantage to 22-17 at the intermission when senior wing Aaron La Deaux hit a 10-foot jumper.
The Wolves never appeared to be in any danger of a setback until the final minute of the contest. That is when Stadium wing Taylor Strickland was fouled while he converted a jumper to cut the Tigers’ deficit to 46-41 with 39 seconds left. Strickland missed the free throw, but Nate Anderson collected it and quickly hit a short shot to make it a one-possession game.
Both teams then split free throws on their ensuing possessions before Martinez missed a one-and-one free throw. The Tigers failed to take advantage of that opportunity as they were called for an offensive foul, but received another opportunity when Martinez missed a pair of free throws. But Anderson-Connolly’s 3-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime rimmed off.
It marked the second time Stadium missed a crucial 3-pointer against South this season. In the first game between the teams on Dec. 16, Minzel, who hit eight 3-pointers in that contest, missed a last-second shot from beyond the arc and Anderson’s putback fell short to preserve the Wolves’ 66-65 win.
“I’m telling you, that’s a good team,” Callaghan said. “They’re tough kids.”
Tough also would describe South’s upcoming schedule. The Wolves play at 7 p.m. Friday at Bellarmine Prep and follow with a contest at Olympia. Both teams are tied for first place in 4A Narrows with 7-1 league records after Olympia defeated the Lions 56-53 on Wednesday. The game against Bellarmine begins a stretch of four games in eight days.
The Wolves hold the fourth — and final — playoff seed in 4A Narrows with a one-game lead on Gig Harbor. South beat the Tides 71-55 on Jan. 11. The teams play again Feb. 3 at Gig Harbor.
At South Kitsap 47, Stadium 44
Stadium 10 7 13 14 — 44
South Kitsap 6 16 10 15 — 47
Stadium—Eric Tuttle 3, Eric Anderson-Connolly 6, Taylor Strickland 4, Tyler Stumph 3, Patrick Minzel 11, Nathan Laske 1, Spencer Henderson 0, Nate Anderson 2, Corey Glackin-Coley 14.
South Kitsap—Aaron La Deaux 2, Ryley Callaghan 8, Tom Simpson 3, Devon Newquist 7, Kellen Traxel 0, Angelo Hazely 6, Nars Martinez 19, James Hyson 0, Josh Osinski 2.