Wolves exploring possibility of visit to unnatural habitat

The annual basketball tournament at Bothell High School has become somewhat of a tradition for the South Kitsap boys basketball team.

South has played in the tournament three of the last four years and won it during the 2004-05 season.

And while Coach John Callaghan likes the tournament, the Wolves might not be back next year. Instead, he is looking into playing in the Capital City Classic in Juneau, Alaska.

“We’re definitely leaning that way,” he said. “The people have been really hospitable to us up there.”

Callaghan called the Capital City Classic a “first-class tournament” and said South played in it about 10 years ago. He said that team played against Carlos Boozer, who grew up in Juneau and now is in his sixth season in the NBA.

One Washington school, Tahoma of Maple Valley, competed in the tournament this year and a couple of South players who will return next season responded favorably to the possibility.

“There’s a lot of competition, I’m guessing,” junior Tionne Curry said. “I can’t wait.”

Sophomore Leon La Deaux agreed.

“Bring it on,” he said. “I’m down to go wherever he (Callaghan) wants to go.”

Callaghan said there’s a $300 entry fee to play in Comcast Christmas Classic. Despite the distance — an hour-long ferry ride from Bremerton to Seattle in addition to the 30-minute drive to Bothell High School — he said the team doesn’t stay overnight, which saves money.

If they go to Juneau, Callaghan said the tournament personnel lineup player hosts. He said junior Collin Monagle lived in Alaska for several years and still has family in the area that might be willing to host players. Callaghan said the tournament also pays out-of-state teams $2,000 to participate, which left the Wolves with $1,000 in expenses last time. He expects that number to be significantly higher this time because of inflation, but thinks they can raise the money through the booster club.

But whether it’s Bothell or Juneau, Callaghan said he expects to go somewhere next year. While he thinks “we could draw some pretty good teams” with a home tournament, he prefers to play tournaments out of the area.

“It’s nice to kind of get away,” he said. “It’s great for team-building … especially when you have young guys who don’t know everyone well.”

La Deaux said he has benefited from watching other teams — and their players. He cited Inglemoor guard Mark McLaughlin, who signed to play at the University of Nevada next year.

“It’s nice to watch other players and see the talent you’re going to go against,” he said. “I can put that in my game and get stronger by it.”

From a team standpoint, La Deaux said the tournament gives the Wolves a gauge for where they stand. South returns home at 7 p.m. Friday against Bellarmine Prep, which features guard Abdul Gaddy, an Arizona commit, and Avery Bradley, who also is regarded as a Division I prospect. Both are juniors.

“It’s good competition over here and we know we can compete and that helps us build,” La Deaux said.

“When you go to state or other tournaments, there’s going to be good players.”

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