BOYS BASKETBALL | Wolves rout Stadium in district finale

TACOMA — Pick an adjective to describe the close losses.

Annoying. Irritating.

Those all were feelings South Kitsap junior guard Ryley Callaghan said his team experienced in close losses this season.

Callaghan and his teammates made sure none of those emotions was applicable Monday from the opening tip in a 62-42 win against Stadium to claim fifth place in the Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament at Mount Tahoma High School.

“We’ve gone up on teams a lot during the first half or quarter and let them climb back into it,” Callaghan said. “We didn’t do that today. We never stopped.”

The Wolves (16-8) advance to regionals at 4 p.m. Saturday against Garfield at Jackson High in Mill Creek.

“As long as we keep playing we’re happy,” South coach John Callaghan said. “We’re not afraid of anyone.”

South, which advances to state for the first time since 2006, lost three games by four points or less this season. One of those came against the Tigers (16-8), who swept the Wolves during the regular season. But those games were decided by 14 points combined and the younger Callaghan said his teammates were not intimidated by the prospect of facing Stadium again.

“Both games could’ve gone either way,” he said. “Our confidence opened up once we hit a couple of shots. We wanted to get revenge on them.”

South nearly was flawless in its execution on both ends during the first half. Just three minutes into the game, senior post Josh Osinski gave the Wolves a 9-2 lead on a layup. That advantage — buoyed by eight first-quarter Tigers’ turnovers — grew to 22-7 when senior guard PJ Johnson intercepted a pass and quickly hurled a successful 3-pointer as time expired during the opening period.

The second quarter featured more of the same as South led by as many as 39-13 when Callaghan found Caulin Bakalarski just in front of the basket on an inbound with 1:39 left. The Wolves, who shot 50 percent from the field during the first half, took a 39-15 lead into the intermission.

“We played very unselfish,” Ryley Callaghan said. “We always found the open guys.”

And, for as strong as South’s offense was, its defense might have been just as significant in the blowout. Stadium, which hurt the Wolves with its outside shooting prowess during the first two games, made just 1 of 11 3-pointers in the opening half. The Tigers shot just 25.9 percent from the field during that span.

“Our pressure got to them at times in the games we played them before,” John Callaghan said. “It seemed like we could never sustain it. But tonight … our defensive intensity was excellent. Wherever the ball was, we had pressure on it. That’s how it’s got to be for us.”

The elder Callaghan was pleased that his team did not relent during the second half. South built its largest lead, 47-18, just two minutes into the third quarter when Callaghan hit a 3-pointer. He finished with a game-high 22 points.

“We talked at halftime about maintaining our intensity,” John Callaghan said. “I’m happy with not just the win, but how we played.”

The Tigers, who finished eighth at districts and travel to play at 4 p.m. Saturday against Richland at Wenatchee High, never trailed by less than 20 points for the remainder of the contest.

Beating Stadium served as redemption of sorts, according to the younger Callaghan, for the previous two losses. The Wolves now will eye a similar result against the Bulldogs (22-1). South lost 67-57 against Garfield in the opening game of the Lake City Invitational on Dec. 27 in Idaho despite holding an eight-point lead at half.

“I don’t think anyone else thinks we’re going to stick with them,” Ryley Callaghan said. “We know in our minds that we’re going to beat them.”

Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament

At Mount Tahoma High School

South Kitsap 62, Stadium 42

Stadium-Eric Tuttle 2, Eric Anderson-Connolly 4, Taylor Strickland 0, Jacob Bills 0, Nathan Laske 10, Blake Budzisz 0, Jordan Powers 2, Bobby Moorehead 5, Malik Mayeux 2, Nate Anderson 0, Lucious Brown 17, Corey Glackin-Coley 0.

South Kitsap-Quincy Benavidez 1, Ryley Callaghan 22, Caulin Bakalarski 9, Logan Knowles 0, Tom Simpson 3, Devon Newquist 8, Nic Stoner 0, PJ Johnson 9, Nick Mishko 2, Forest Bingham 0, James Hyson 2, Josh Osinski 6.

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