Wolves cement tourney berth

The ticket to Tacoma has been punched, but there’s still plenty of work left to be done.

That was the general feeling on Friday night after the No. 3-ranked South Kitsap boy’s basketball team topped Federal Way 62-56 in the quarterfinal round of the Class 4A West Central/Southwest District Tournament at Puyallup. The Wolves’ win guaranteed them a sixth straight trip to the state tournament on March 8-11 at the Tacoma Dome.

“After last year, we want the championship bad,” SK senior Ryan Sweet said. “And we’re going to do whatever we have to to get it.”

But until then, South still has a pair of tough games left as the seeds of the eight teams the district sends to state are still do be decided. And time to work on a few things.

South played old foe Kentwood late Tuesday night in one semifinal, while top-rated Curtis met Prairie in the other. The two winners advance to Saturday’s 6 p.m. title game, while the losers meet up at 2 p.m. to decide the third and fourth seeds.

Both games will be played at Puyallup High School.

Results from both games can be found on the Independent’s Web site at immediately following each contest.

Despite not trailing for most of the game, South’s win was not a thing a beauty. In fact, some called it downright ugly.

“You could call this win very ugly,” Sweet said. “We should have played better defensively. Free throws...weren’t all there.”

But if ugly gets the job done, who’s really going to care?

And if ugly means getting 16 points and 15 rebounds from Sweet and 12 points and seven boards from Josh Monagle, no one — including South coach John Callaghan — is going to care.

“You could use the word ugly if you want, but I’d rather say it was a good defensive game,” Callaghan said. “That was a great team we just played, and for us to get out of here with a win, if it’s ugly that’s fine. We’ll take it.”

Friday night belonged to the Wolves’ inside game as Sweet came up huge time after time for the Wolves, who are after their first-ever WCD title.

After a slow and sloppy start, South led 23-18 at halftime. Then both teams got their games on track. South twice built a 10-point second-half lead but could never put the Eagles away until late.

Federal Way’s duo of Terrell Smith and Earnest “Pooh” Williams, who combined for 62 points in the Eagles’ opening-round win over Mountain View, found hot shooting hands during the second half to keep their team not only close but well within reach of winning the game.

After scoring a combined 11 points in the first half, the twosome exploded for 27 of the Eagles 38 second-half points. Williams, who scored just five in the first 16 minutes, netted 19 in the second half, while Smith added 9.

“We kind of lost our intensity towards them,” Sweet said. “We let down and they were getting way too many open shots.

While Williams and Smith were getting hot, South relied on its solid and deep bench to keep the pressure on.

Starters L.P. Neloms, who scored all nine of his points in the second half, and Conner Gehring, who chipped in with eight, did their part, while Evan Atwater came off the bench to nail a pair of key 3-pointers on his way to eight points.

Tysaiah Curry, who has been seeing more playing time as the postseason goes on, added seven points.

“They had two players that they depended on,” Curry said of Williams and Smith. “And for a team to be successful, you need more than two players. You need a full team, like we have.”

That team will now get ample time to work on tweaking its game before its March 8 opener. And there’s plenty to be done.

“I like the way we’re playing, but there are things we can do better, improve on,” Callaghan said. “This is an exciting time, but we have to start playing better — much better.

“It’s not going to get any easier from here,” Callaghan said. “No one cares about what we’ve done or who we are. Everyone is good at this time of year and we have to just continue to get better.”

South Kitsap 62, Federal Way 56

Score by quarters

Federal Way 8 10 14 24 - 56

South Kitsap 11 12 16 23 - 62

Federal Way - Terrell Smith 11, 3-4 - 14; Brandon Gist-Williams 2, 0-0 - 2; Dwayne Alo 6, 0-0 - 6; Pooh Williams 19, 5-10 - 24; Aaron Broussard 4, 1-2 - 5; Jeffrey Forbes, Jr. 2, 0-0 - 2; Stephen Sealey 2, 1-2 - 3; Andre Barrington 0, 0-0 - 0. Team totals: 46, 10-20 - 56.

South Kitsap - Conner Gehring 8, 0-1 - 8; Tippy Burk 2, 0-0 - 2; LP Neloms 6, 3-4 - 9; Ryan Sweet 16, 0-4 - 16; Josh Monagle 12, 0-0 - 12; Evan Atwater 8, 0-0 - 8; Tysaiah Curry 3, 4-5 - 7; Joe Pisa 0, 0-0 - 0. Team totals: 55, 7-14 - 62.

Three-point field goals: Smith 3, Alo 2, PWilliams 3, Gehring 2, Atwater 2, Curry. Fouled out: Monagle.

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