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BOYS BASKETBALL | Lions outlast South Kitsap in overtime
It was the final minutes of regulation — not the overtime outcome — that left South Kitsap coach John Callaghan seething.
Callaghan’s frustration after Wednesday night’s 52-51 loss against Bellarmine Prep in Class 4A Narrows League play stemmed from a technical foul assessed against him with 2:17 minutes left on a drive by Sefo Liufau.
Liufau missed an opportunity to make it a three-point play when he could not connect on the free throw, but Lucas Meikle converted both technical foul free throws to extend the Lions’ lead to 45-41.
“That one guy, he’s calling a [technical] with two minutes left in the game in a tight, great game,” Callaghan said. “He’s calling a [technical] — I didn’t even say a word. It’s like, ‘What are you doing?’ It’s frustrating.”
That proved significant as South junior point guard Ryley Callaghan drove for a layup on the Wolves’ ensuing possession and later converted a pair of free throws to tie the game, 45-all, with 43 seconds remaining.
The momentum appeared to permanently shift in South’s favor when junior wing Caulin Bakalarski stole the inbounds and scored on a layup to give the Wolves their first lead, 47-45, with 38 seconds left.
Isaiah Flynn had a different plan, though.
With the shot clock winding down, Flynn pulled up and hit a 3-pointer to give Bellarmine a 49-48 advantage with nine seconds remaining.
“He’s a very courageous player,” Bellarmine coach Bernie Salazar said. “It didn’t surprise me that he was willing to take that shot.”
That was just enough time for Callaghan to drive into the key and draw a foul with 3.3 seconds left. But Callaghan missed the first free throw before converting the second to send the game into overtime.
“I wish I would’ve hit that free throw,” Callaghan said.
The end of regulation theatrics did not immediately transition into overtime. Neither team scored until Flynn, who had 12 points, made 1 of 2 free throws with 58 seconds left. The Lions (8-7 overall, 7-1 league), who retained sole possession of first place with the win, then extended their lead to 51-48 when Liufau converted a pair of free throws with 22.9 seconds left.
But South (10-5, 5-2) appeared poised to send the game into double overtime when Bakalarski, who scored a game-high 15 points, hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left.
The game was not settled until Tom Simpson was assessed with a foul on Flynn, who made 1 of 2 free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining to secure the win. John Callaghan felt a charge should have been called against Flynn.
“I love how our kids played,” Callaghan said. “They put it all out there. It’s just a shame that calls by officials have to determine a great game like that.”
While Flynn made the notable shots in regulation and overtime to outlast the Wolves, they could not contain the 6-foot-8 Meikle for most of the game. The Gonzaga-bound center scored a game-high 22 points.
“He’s tough,” Callaghan said. “Not only has he got that height, he can put it on the floor and shoot it.”
Salazar, whose team lost suffered its only league loss Dec. 19 against South, said he is not ready to celebrate a league championship yet despite the victory.
“We knew that in order to have an opportunity at a league championship, tonight would be huge,” he said. “It’s not over by any means. There’s still four more league games against great teams.”
The result is the end of a four-game win streak for South, which hosts Central Kitsap at 7 p.m. Friday. The Wolves now are tied for second place in 4A Narrows with Stadium, which defeated the Cougars 67-47 on Wednesday.
“We’ve got to keep our heads up,” Ryley Callaghan said. “We’ll have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder.”
Bellarmine Prep 52, at South Kitsap 51 (OT)
Bellarmine Prep 12 12 12 12 4 — 52
South Kitsap 10 12 11 15 3 — 51
Bellarmine Prep — Mar’kese Jackson 0, Isaiah Flynn 12, Carson Hollyoak 0, Sefo Liufau 12, Rex Bodoia 0, Jacob Salazar 3, Lucas Meikle 22, Logan Hickman 3.
South Kitsap — Ryley Callaghan 11, Caulin Bakalarski 15, Tom Simpson 2, Devon Newquist 9, PJ Johnson 6, Nick Mishko 0, James Hyson 8, Josh Osinski 0.