Patience a virtue for Wolves

Patience was the word most frequently uttered by South Kitsap boys basketball coach John Callaghan before New Year’s Day.

But when the Wolves opened January with a loss against Bellarmine Prep, he said inexperience no longer was an excuse and it was time for his team to produce.

The message appears to have resonated as South earned its fourth consecutive win with a 66-57 victory Thursday against North Kitsap in Narrows League play.

“I’m proud of the guys,” said South forward Nick Johnson, who had a team-high 19 points and 12 rebounds. “It’s one of the better games we've played all year.”

Callaghan said consistency comes from chemistry, and it started in the front court. Collin Monagle, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, had seven points and six assists — several to Johnson for layups.

“You could see with the passing — people knew where they were going to be,” Callaghan said. “Collin and Nick had some nice back-and-forth passes.”

The Wolves (10-6 overall, 6-4 league) needed most of those as North challenged them throughout the game. Taylor Hoffer, a 6-foot-7 junior, paced the Vikings with 19 points, while junior guard Kyle Erickson finished with 18.

But North coach Tony Chisholm credited his team’s defensive effort for keeping the game close. The Vikings (9-6, 4-6), who now have lost four of their last five games, trailed 30-26 at halftime and 50-46 to start the fourth quarter.

“I thought all of our guys did well,” Chisholm said. “We still base ourselves on team defense. Defense creates your offense.”

North couldn’t find quite enough of that in the final period after Erickson converted a free throw to finish a three-point play and tie the game, 51-all. The Wolves responded with seven unanswered points and the Vikings never got any closer.

And while Chisholm is anxious for his team to win close games, he also is excited about its progress. He became the fourth coach at North in five years when he took over the program last season — the Vikings finished 2-18 in 2006-07.

“We’ve grown by leaps and bounds,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. We just have to learn to win those close games.”

The Wolves appear a little closer to that point, but Callaghan said they still haven’t made enough progress.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction, but we still can play a lot better,” he said.

That continues today for both teams as they travel to Tacoma. North faces a struggling Stadium team, while the Wolves reenter Bridge Division play against first-place Lincoln. The Abes previously defeated South 70-57 on Dec. 5.

Both teams only have four league games left until the district tournament.

“We need to come out hard from the tip this time,” Johnson said. “We didn’t do that last time.”

After all, there’s no time left for patience.

At South Kitsap 66, North Kitsap 57

North Kitsap 15 11 20 11 — 57

South Kitsap 19 11 20 16 — 66

North Kitsap—Max Skelley 0, Kyle McCowen 7, Tyler Seth 1, Nathan Deguzman 2, Taylor Chisholm 0, Kyle Erickson 18, Jordan Coover 10, Taylor Hoffer 19, Kevin Stringer 0, Travis Ejde 0.

South Kitsap—Tionne Curry 9, Gibson Davies 13, Corey Hoffman 0, Nick Johnson 19, Leon La Deaux 12, Collin Monagle 7, Ivan Rybachuk 0, Austin Siegel 6.

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