SK reverts to bad habits in tourney

The South Kitsap girls basketball team came into the Narrows League Tournament on a six-game winning streak.

They had cut down on the turnovers that hindered them earlier in the season and even seemed to make progress at the free-throw line. They talked about the confidence that came with victories.

Then came the playoffs and a return to early-season form. After a second consecutive loss, 40-38, Saturday against Olympia at Mount Tahoma High School, the Wolves (10-11) enter the West Central District Tournament as the fifth seed out of the Narrows. They will play Federal Way (17-4), which has won six straight games, on Thursday.

How did it come to this?

The Wolves trailed 24-18 at halftime and 28-25 going into the fourth quarter. But they tied the game, 28-all, with 5 minutes, 48 seconds left in the game when Stephanie Osterdahl found Jessica Jordan for an uncontested layup. Their largest lead of the second half was 33-31 when Tori Fairweather split a pair of free throws with 2:33 remaining.

But the Wolves committed a pair of turnovers and Olympia scored five unanswered points to take the lead for good. Samantha Gulisao scored a layup for South to cut its deficit to 36-35, but Nicole Mertens responded with a pair of free throws with 21.8 seconds left.

A South offensive foul allowed Marnie Brown, who scored a game-high 13 points, to convert two more free throws with 5 seconds left to extend the Bears’ edge to five. Gulisao, who had a team-high 10 points, made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the scoring.

Olympia converted 10 of 16 free throws, while the Wolves were 8 of 20 from the line.

“It was ridiculous,” South coach Mike Allen said. “It’s a lack of focus.”

South has struggled with free throws the last two seasons, shooting around 50 percent last season and worse than that this year. Allen said it’s an emphasis at practice and he’s even switched it around to have his team practice free throws at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of practice in hopes of breaking the rut.

“We shoot hundreds of them in practice,” he said. “We do it all the time and don’t convert them during the game.”

This time it cost them the league’s No. 4 seed at districts.

“It’s pretty much all that it was,” South forward Kaileigh Westermann said. “We had them the entire time. If we converted free throws, we would’ve won.”

The Wolves also lost 45-33 in the Narrows League Tournament opener Thursday against Bellarmine Prep when they committed 35 turnovers, but Allen still believes his team has “the ability” to get to state for the first time since 2000. They need to win two games in the WCD to accomplish that.

“We need to come out with intensity,” Westermann said. “If we do that, we’re going to dominate. I know we can.”

South Kitsap 9 9 7 13 — 38

Olympia 15 9 4 12 — 40

South Kitsap—Caitlin Daniels 0, Samantha Gulisao 10,

Stephanie Osterdahl 6, Amanda Feeney 1, Maria Jose 0,

Ashlee Stoner 0, Chelnesha Thuring 2, Tori Fairweather 3,

Jessica Jordan 5, Ashley King 0, Angel Sheldon 4,

Kaileigh Westermann 7.

Olympia—Marissa Ang 7, Marnie Brown 13, Kelsey Fuik 0, Marissa Magalei 5, Nicole Mertens 7, Carley Howell 6, Michelle Woodward 2, Olivia Rethwill 0, Tessa Briggs 0.

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