Wolves stop Shelton, little else

One of the major objectives in the home and Narrows League Bridge Division opener for the South Kitsap boys basketball team was to contain Kaleb Shelton.

And for good reason.

The 6-foot-4 Shelton averaged more than 17 points per game en route to first-team all-Narrows League honors last season. And on that front, the Wolves succeed, holding Shelton to six points.

But basketball -- similar to many sports -- is a team sport and while they met one goal, they lost the game, 70-57, Wednesday night.

With their top scorer contained most of the game, the Abes (2-2 overall, 1-0 league) turned early to reserve Turrell Smith, who connected on all three of his first-quarter 3-pointers as he scored 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter.

The Abes took a 16-13 lead into the second quarter.

It only got worse for the Wolves (2-1, 0-1) in the second quarter as they were outscored 25-10 and trailed 41-23 at halftime.

“The first half we were mentally and physically weak,” South coach John Callaghan said.

“We knew Lincoln plays good defense. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t get into our offense, but their pressure was excellent.”

South committed 11 of its 18 turnovers in the first half. They also converted just 11 of 30 shots in the opening 16 minutes.

“We can’t just run up and down the floor and be successful,” Callaghan said. “It’s not open gym. We have to execute.”

Forward Nick Johnson, who scored 15 points for the Wolves, attributed the team’s first-half woes to their inexperience.

“It was our first home game and we have a lot of young guys,” said Johnson, one of three seniors on the roster. “I think our nerves got to us a little bit.”

The game initially was scheduled to be played at Lincoln, but South administrators requested that they swap home games and now will play the Abes on the road Jan. 19. That’s because the school needs the gym for the South Kitsap Invitational wrestling tournament that day.

Callaghan hopes his team will make significant strides by that time, and if the second half was any indication, the Wolves already might be on the way. A pair of free throws by guard Tionne Curry, who paced South with 17 points, cut Lincoln’s lead to 45-35 with 3 minutes, 18 seconds left in the third quarter. The Wolves couldn’t maintain the momentum, though, and trailed 51-37 going into the fourth quarter.

Curry again helped lead the Wolves back with a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 57-47 with 3:29 left, but the teams essentially traded baskets and free throws the rest of the way. Lincoln, which never trailed in the game, led by at least eight points throughout the second half.

“It seemed like we had a couple of chances to get it under 10 and we got sloppy with the ball,” Callaghan said.

South shot 23 of 58 (39.7 percent) from the field, while the Abes hit 25 of 55 (45.5 percent) of their shots. Behind Smith and Ryan Rogers, who scored a game-high 19 points, Lincoln made 7 of its 15 3-pointers. Meanwhile, the Wolves were just 1 for 9.

“We knew (those two) could shoot it,” Callaghan said. “We wanted to take Shelton out a bit, but we didn’t get out.”

And when the Wolves did, it seemed like the Abes always found someone open near the hoop for an uncontested layup. One of the primary beneficiaries was forward Dominique Faga’autau, who converted 4-of-5 shots for nine points.

“Defensively, we were giving up penetration,” Callaghan said. “They drove and dished it off. We weren’t there.”

As far away as getting there seemed against the Abes, Callaghan liked the effort his team showed in the second half and feels the Wolves will continue to improve.

“I don’t think we’re that far off,” he said. “You don’t win the game in the first half, but you can give it away.”

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