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BOYS BASKETBALL | Loss relegates Wolves to road for districts
South Kitsap’s quest to advance to the state playoffs for the first time since 2006 will have to come on the road.
That verdict was finalized when the Wolves lost 39-37 in their regular-season finale Wednesday night against Stadium in a Class 4A Narrows League boys basketball game.
The Wolves (13-7 overall, 8-4 league) finished in third place in 4A Narrows with the loss and will open the West Central District Tournament on Wednesday at South Puget Sound League’s fourth seed. They will play the loser of Auburn vs. Federal Way, which is set for 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Kent’s ShoWare Center.
It could have been a different scenario. If South defeated the Tigers (14-6, 10-2) it would have necessitated a one-game playoff between the schools Friday at a neutral site. The Wolves could have secured second place — and a home playoff contest — with a victory in that game.
That scenario was difficult to envision when Eric Anderson-Connolly stepped to the free-throw line with Stadium leading 39-34 with just 25 seconds left. But the Tigers were not in the double bonus and Anderson-Connolly missed his shot. Seven seconds later, junior guard Ryley Callaghan hit a 3-pointer to cut South’s deficit to two points.
Stadium had another opportunity to secure the victory when Malik Mayeux was fouled with eight seconds remaining. But he missed the first free throw and the Wolves again got the ball to Callaghan, who struggled to get open before hurling an off-balanced 3-pointer that fell short.
South shot just 11 of 51 from the field. The elder Callaghan said the Wolves settled for too many jumpers, but also noted he has some talented perimeter shooters.
“We’ve got guys who can hit those shots,” he said. “We’ll take those shots.”
Callaghan said he particularly was disappointed for his seven seniors, who did not get to experience a win in their final home game. Callaghan said the group deserves credit for leading the program to districts for the first time since 2007. When those players were sophomores, South finished with a 6-14 record — the worst mark of Callaghan’s 15-year tenure.
“It’s a bummer and I’m sad for our seniors,” Callaghan said. “Those guys have done a lot in their three years.”
Callaghan said that is indicative of that group’s resiliency — a trait he expects to benefit the Wolves during the playoffs. Excluding the Lake City Invitational in Idaho, South won six of its final seven road games.
“I don’t think there’s anyone out there we can’t beat if we play well,” Callaghan said. “We’re going to be a tough team to beat. I wouldn’t want to play us.”
Stadium 39, at South Kitsap 37
Stadium 10 12 9 8 — 39
South Kitsap 14 6 10 7 — 37
Stadium-Eric Anderson-Connolly 11, Taylor Strickland 0, Jacob Bills 2, Jordan Powers 11, Malik Mayeux 7, Lucious Brown 6, Corey Glackin-Coley 2.
South Kitsap-Quincy Benavidez 0, Ryley Callaghan 10, Caulin Bakalarski 11, Tom Simpson 4, Devon Newquist 6, Nic Stoner 2, PJ Johnson 2, Nick Mishko 2, James Hyson 0, Josh Osinski 0.