BOYS BASKETBALL | South Kitsap stuns Olympia

South Kitsap junior Caulin Bakalarski drives past several Olympia defenders for two of his eight points. - Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo
South Kitsap junior Caulin Bakalarski drives past several Olympia defenders for two of his eight points.
— image credit: Dannie Oliveaux/Staff Photo

Perhaps no sport provides better theater than basketball.

South Kitsap fended off several threats during the waning moments of Wednesday night’s 54-49 upset win against Olympia in Class 4A Narrows League play.

Most of those heroics centered not around the Bears’ dynamic 6-foot-8 posts, but on the perimeter.

Caulin Bakalarski secured an offensive rebound off a miss and the Wolves (7-4 overall, 3-1 league) capitalized with a possession that ran nearly one minute off the clock before Devon Newquist was fouled with 1:52 remaining. Newquist converted 1 of 2 free throws to extend South’s lead to 49-43.

Instead of challenging the Wolves with its post presence, Olympia turned toward 5-foot-11 junior Max Fortier, who hit a 25-foot 3-pointer to reduce the Bears’ deficit to 49-46 with 1:36 left.

“His range was about to the door,” South coach John Callaghan said.

Bakalarski then responded with a 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining before both teams traded turnovers. Fortier then made another 3-pointer from a similar distance as his previous shot — only from the other side of the arc — to make it a one-possession game with 33 seconds left.

The drama might have been suspended there when the Bears (8-2, 2-2) fouled Ryley Callaghan, who scored a game-high 16 points, five seconds later. But Callaghan missed a pair of free throws, which gave Olympia a final opportunity — or three — to avoid the upset.

That scenario was avoided as Alex Johnson, Fortier and Brendan Leonard missed 3-pointers in succession before South secured the rebound that led to a Callaghan breakaway layup to seal the win with five seconds left.

The Wolves, who played their first home game since their Nov. 26 season-opener against Bremerton, led most of the game. Using a press defense from the start, South created multiple turnovers early as it built an 11-2 lead on a layup by Callaghan with 4:58 remaining in the first quarter. The Wolves forced Olympia into nine first-half turnovers as they built a 24-20 lead at halftime.

“They’re huge,” John Callaghan said. “We can’t just let them walk it up and throw it in. It was going to come down to pressure. It got us going.”

But the Bears reduced their deficit to 33-32 entering the fourth quarter and took their first lead, 37-35, on a Fortier 3-pointer with 7:05 left. Fortier then responded with another shot from beyond the arc to give Olympia its largest lead, 40-35, with 6:27 remaining.

It would be short-lived.

Newquist, who scored 14 points, hit a 3-pointer with 5:10 left to help South regain the lead, 42-41.

“We hung in there and kept our composure,” Callaghan said. “They know that they can come back on anybody. That’s the confidence they have right now.”

While Callaghan praised the Wolves outside shooting — South converted 8 of 15 attempts from beyond the arc — he also noted the effort of others who were not as prominent in the box score. Senior posts Josh Osinski and James Hyson did not score, but both were tasked with defending Michael Champlin and Brendan Leonard. While that duo combined for 22 points, they were not able to use their height advantage to dominate the Wolves.

“I thought Josh and James played really well for us most of the night,” Callaghan said. “They were up against some good players.”

In addition to his posts, Callaghan credited his guards and wings for disrupting the Bears with the press and using their athleticism to corral rebounds.

“All of those guys came in and pressured the ball,” he said. “I think we wore them out to an extent. Our pressure took its toll at the end.”

The win moves South, which lost two of its last three games, into a first-place tie with Bellarmine Prep and Stadium. Bakalarski said the outcome elevated the Wolves’ expectations for the season.

“I really want to win districts,” he said. “Hopefully, we can go to state. We feel pretty confident.”

At South Kitsap 54, Olympia 49

Olympia          9          11        12        17        —         49

South Kitsap    19        5          9          21        —         54

Olympia-Michael Naipo 3, Casey Bassett 0, Max Fortier 12, Sam Meyer 0, Mitch Fettig 0, Alex Johnson 6, Lewis Faller 6, Brendan Leonard 11, Michael Champlin 11.

South Kitsap-Quincy Benavidez 0, Ryley Callaghan 16, Caulin Bakalarski 8, Tom Simpson 12, Devon Newquist 14, Nic Stoner 0, PJ Johnson 2, Nick Mishko 2, James Hyson 0, Josh Osinski 0.

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