Wolves finally close the deal

South Kitsap, which has made a habit of squandering leads this season, finally found a recipe for closing the deal on Friday night — converting free throws.

After leading visiting Central Kitsap by a single point with just 53 seconds remaining in the contest, the Wolves’ got four foul shots from Tionne Curry and one each from Corey Hoffman and Nick Johnson to preserve what turned out to be a deceptively comfortable 60-53 victory.

“Believe me, it hasn’t always been that way for us,” said South Coach John Callaghan. “To often we’ve been our own worst enemy. Things will be going along just fine, then something will happen and we’ll starting thinking too much. When that happens, we’re in trouble.”

And they looked to be again — more than once — against the Cougars.

The Wolves jumped out to a 19-15 lead early as Curry converted three free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt just before the end of the first quarter.

But Central stormed back to tie the score at 25-all on a bank shot by Andrew Shearer with 3:33 remaining in the half.

The Wolves got a pair of three-pointers from Hoffman and another by Gibson Davies just ahead of the buzzer to take a 34-27 lead into the locker room.

They extended the advantage to 36-28 a minute into the second half before the Cougars went on a 12-5 run to cut the lead to 41-40 after three quarters.

“Once we get on a roll, we do stuff that defies logic sometimes,” Callaghan said. “I hate to say it’s because we’re young, because we’re really not. But we’ve really had trouble putting teams away this year. At times it’s been painful to watch.”

Friday’s game had all the makings of just such a performance as Shearer nailed a pair of free throws after being fouled on a breakaway layup to give the Cougars a 44-43 lead with 6:40 remaining in the game.

Phillip Thomas added another foul shot 25 seconds later to make it 45-43, but Hoffman converted an errant shot with 3:56 remaining to tie the score at 45, then made a steal and scored on a breakaway layup to put the Wolves back in the lead for good with 3:38 remaining.

CK forward Brandon Durham scored on a layup and Shearer added a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one again with just under a minute remaining before Curry and Hoffman sealed the game at the foul line.

As a team, the Wolves were 17 of 22 from the line.

“That was the difference right there,” Callaghan said. “We stepped right up and knocked those shots down. When you do that, you’re going to win basketball games.”

Curry and Hoffman paced all scorers with 14 points each, while Thomas led the Cougars with 11.

Durham, who Callaghan described as a “beast inside,” tallied just eight points for CK. “Collin (Monagle) did a real nice job on him tonight,” he said.

“For some reason, it just always seems like we have to work harder than other teams do,” Callaghan said. “We’ll come down and have to work the ball around for two minutes before we finally get a decent shot. Then the other team comes back and drives right down the lane on us for a layup. Then we have to go right back down and start all over again.

“I was pretty pleased with our patience and the way we took care of the ball,” he said. “Sometimes that isn’t the prettiest way to win, but we’ll take it.”

South Kitsap, which raised its record to 8-6 overall and 4-4 in the Narrows League with the win, traveled to Stadium on Tuesday and will host North Kitsap at 7 p.m. tomorrow night.

Central Kitsap 15 12 13 13 — 53

South Kitsap 19 15 7 19 — 60

Central Kitsap — Andrew Braun 9, Isaiah Thompson 7, Phillip Thomas 11, Caleb Brown 4, Brandon Durham 8, Andrew Shearer 9, Matthew Wain 3.

South Kitsap — Tionne Curry 14, Corey Hoffman 14, Nick Johnson 13, Leon La Deaux 4, Collin Monagle 6, Austin Siegel 3, Gibson Davies 6.

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