SK turns back Tides — again

He wanted to hear the fans chant after the game.

“Just like football!” “Just like football!”

While he never played football and a “personal family matter” kept him from playing basketball last season, South Kitsap senior forward Nick Johnson wanted to ensure that this was the first time in five school years that the Wolves beat rival Gig Harbor in both sports.

It took a dramatic fourth quarter that featured three ties and a trio of lead changes, but South ultimately prevailed for a 51-50 win Friday night to earn its first Narrows League Bridge Division victory of the season. The Tides were ranked as a top-10 Class 4A team by some publications going into the game.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,“ South coach John Callaghan said. “The whole game was an uphill battle the whole way. We kept playing hard and doing what we do, and eventually it paid of for us.”

And while defeating the Tides is nothing new for Callaghan, who has guided his team to wins in nine of the last 10 games in the series, this one might have been the toughest to accomplish. South (3-1 overall, 1-1 league) was coming off a 70-57 home loss Wednesday against Lincoln and trailed 50-47 after Geoff McIntosh converted a pair of free throws with 1 minute, 17 seconds left in the game.

Leon La Deaux, who hit 4 of 6 3-pointers en route to 14 points, also fouled out on the play. Without perhaps their best outside shooter, the Wolves turned inside to Johnson, who connected on a short jumper to cut the Tides’ lead to 50-49 with 27 seconds left.

McIntosh, who made 4 of 5 free throws, was fouled five seconds later, but missed both shots. The Wolves methodically worked the clock before Tionne Curry found Collin Monagle near the basket. He made both free throws with 5.5 seconds to bring the score to its final.

“I was nervous,” said Monagle, noting that he has struggled with free-throw shooting. “I knew at the end it would come down to me making those free throws, and I knew I was going to hit them.”

The premonition came to fruition.

“Collin’s a gamer,” Callaghan said. “He may not be our best free-throw shooter, but with the game on the line, I’m pretty confident in him.”

Gig Harbor (2-2, 1-1) had a final opportunity, but McIntosh was called for an offensive foul after he ran into Mike Longmire. The ball came loose, McIntosh pushed Longmire in search of it, and was called for an intentional foul. Officials changed the call to a flagrant foul and ejected McIntosh.

He watched as Longmire missed both free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining, but the Wolves retained possession and ran out the clock.

With the exception of Johnson, who converted 7 of 15 shots for a team-high 16 points, the game won’t be remembered as a shooting duel. South converted 17 of 56 (30.4 percent) of its field goals. Meanwhile, the Tides finished 19 of 47 (40.4 percent) from the field.

South negated some of its shooting woes by committing just 11 turnovers and had more 3-pointers (5) than the Tides (3). After a difficult first quarter — Gig Harbor led 6-5 entering the second period — the Wolves also found some timely shots. La Deaux made a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left in the quarter to bring the score to 20-20 at halftime.

When McIntosh gave the Tides a 28-22 lead in the third quarter with a 3-pointer, La Deaux responded on the ensuing possession with one of his own.

Gig Harbor took a 38-36 advantage into the final period and looked like it might finish off the Wolves with 1:39 left. That’s when Mathias Ward, who scored a game-high 21 points, scored on a layup to extend the Tides’ advantage to 48-44.

“He is just a beast,” Callaghan said. “I thought we played really good ‘D’ on him, but he still converted.”

But La Deaux again responded with a 3-pointer and the Wolves never went away.

South continues Bridge Division play today at Wilson and returns home Friday against Foss. Both games start at 7 p.m.

Box score

Gig Harbor 6 14 18 12 — 50

South Kitsap 5 15 16 15 — 51

Gig Harbor--Austin Seferian-Jenkins 4, Cody Payne 0, Jake Pappuleas 10, David Bigelow 0, Ted Steingraber 0, Geoff McIntosh 11, Mathias Ward 21, Milan Urban 4.

South Kitsap--Gibson Davies 7, Corey Hoffman 0, Ivan Rybachuk 0, Tionne Curry 2, Austin Siegel 2, Nick Johnson 16, Joey Osinski 0, Leon La Deaux 14, Collin Monagle 6, Michael Longmire 2, Ricky King 2.

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