Wolves to face Southridge in opening round

If the draw for today’s Class 4A state boy’s basketball tournament is any indication, this could be a very good week for South Kitsap.

Fresh off their 79-64 win over Curtis in the championship game of the West Central/Southwest District Tournament Saturday night, the Wolves were rewarded on Sunday with not only the prime starting time at today’s opening round, but they find themselves in the easier of the two eight-team brackets that will eventually produce a 2006 state champion.

South Kitsap will face Southridge, out of Kennewick, at 7 p.m. tonight as things get started at the Tacoma Dome.

“Playing at 7 p.m. is sweet,” South coach John Callaghan said. “It’s not too late and it’s not too early. It’s just right.”

The 24-1 Wolves, ranked third in the state, are making their sixth consecutive trip to the state tourney, while the 21-6 Suns, who finished third in the Eastern Regional, will come west to Tacoma for their first-ever state appearance.

The winner of the SK-Southridge game will get the winner of Prairie-Snohomish at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday night in the quarterfinal round, while the two losers will play at 2 p.m.

Top-rated Curtis, which lost to South Kitsap Saturday night, and Kentwood, a team that has beaten the Wolves in the past two state tournaments, are in the top half of the draw.

“All those teams are away from us, which is good,” Callaghan said. “But our side of the bracket is going to be tough. Nothing is going to be easy. Every game will be a good game against a good team.”

Fellow Narrows League foes Gig Harbor and Bellarmine Prep are in the bottom half of the bracket with the Wolves as are Inglemoor and Central Valley.

But the immediate concern is Southridge and the fact that there’s not much known about them at this point.

“I do know that they’re pretty big,” Callaghan said. “But we’ll learn a little bit more before we meet them.”

South does have some film on the Suns, courtesy of assistant coach Darren Bowden’s father, who lives in Prosser and has done some advance scouting and filming for the Wolves.

The Suns are young, having lost 10 seniors and its coach from a team that fell one game short of the postseason last year. Southridge has just two returning starters in Carson Homme, a 6-5 junior and Travis Mattair, a 6-3 sophomore.

Mattair has the most experience on the team, having played quite a bit last year as a freshman and put up some impressive numbers Saturday night in Southridge’s 54-41 win over Mount Spokane.

The Suns’ point guard scored 11 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and dished out six assists.

But Southridge also has some size with Homme, Jason Munns, a 6-6 sophomore and Spencer Towne, a 6-7 junior.

Towne had 14 points in the Mount Spokane game, while senior guard Stephen Mikelsen scored a team-high 19.

The Suns can easily shift from a quick, speedy team to one with a huge lineup, making things difficult for its opponents.

But South holds a huge advantage in playoff experience, especially concerning the state tournament. Conner Gehring, Evan Atwater and Tyasiah

Curry are making their third trip to the Dome while Tippy Burk, Josh Monagle, Ryan Sweet and Joe Pisa will play in their second tourney.

All in all, things look good for the Wolves, at least on paper.

“It’s all in the luck of the draw,” Callaghan said. “That’s just the way it is. We’re just glad to still be playing at this point..”

The state tournament runs Wednesday through Saturday with the title game scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday.

2006 Class 4A state tournament draw

First round

March 8 at Tacoma Dome

Jackson (21-4) vs. Curtis (23-2) 9 a.m.

Mount Tahoma (17-7) vs. Cascade (20-3) 10:30 a.m.

Franklin (19-5) vs. Kentwood (21-4) noon

Evergreen (18-8) vs. Ferris (24-2) 2 p.m.

Gig Harbor (16-9) vs. Inglemoor (21-2) 3:30 p.m.

Bellarmine (21-6) vs. Central Valley (19-6) 5 p.m.

Southridge (21-6) vs. South Kitsap (24-1) 7 p.m.

Snohomish (20-3) vs. Prairie (16-9) 8:30 p.m.

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