Wolves win leaves lots of room for important

"South Kitsap High School boys basketball coach John Callaghan said his team’s 58-41 season-opening victory over the Bremerton Knights gave his team the reality of how much improvement it needs to succeed in the Narrows League.The Wolves were fortunate to face a team--already decimated by injuries--with its two biggest stars, Mike Crozier and J.R. Ross, sitting on the bench most of the game.Crozier was ejected midway through the second quarter for allegedly punching a South Kitsap player--an allegation he denied. And Ross was shuttled back and forth to the bench throughout the contest, trying to stave off foul trouble.With those two players, the Knights stood a credible chance to grab the victory in the non-league opener for both teams. Without them--well, the Knights were outscored 33-20 in the second half.“When they lost (Crozier), that changed everything,” Callaghan said. “They did a nice job without him, but their leader was gone. It certainly helped our pressure, that’s for sure.”Ironically, Crozier dropped in a double-pump jumper to give the Knights their last lead at 15-14 just before being ejected. Several witnesses said he pumped his fist in celebration after making the shot, but the actual cause of the ejection wasn’t clear. Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg and Callaghan offered a near-identical response of “I’m not sure what happened.”Jason Young’s two technical foul shots gave South Kitsap the lead back. And, although Bremerton managed one more tie at 19-all and trailed 25-21 at halftime, the damage was done.Without Crozier in the game, the Wolves could run at their own tempo and key defensively on sophomore point guard Michael Stitt, who had six first-half points and did a solid job directing Bremerton’s offense in his high school debut.Junior Justin Dudley scored six straight points to cap a 13-6 run that finally pushed South Kitsap into control, 38-27, to start the second half.Lindberg already was dealing with the unavailability of three injured players--forwards Sam Flemister and Kellen Alley and wing Angelo Jeanpierre.Even after Crozier’s ouster, however, things never really dismantled for Bremerton. Lindberg credited Stitt’s heady play and the contributions of another sophomore, Joe Bollinger--promoted from the junior varsity for the game--for helping keep things together.“Those guys were two of the bright spots for me,” Lindberg said. “I thought Stitt did a really nice job. He and Bollinger (who broke both arms at different times during football season and was just cleared to play earlier Tuesday) didn’t back down from anyone.”Lindberg also gave credit to the Wolves, who controlled the boards and repeatedly got points from their set offense, exploiting the Knights’ inexperience.Callaghan said South Kitsap must get better.“Our effort was good, but our execution wasn’t,” he said. “We’re a long way away. Some of us need to put the team first. There was a lot of individual stuff, and we can’t have that.”That being said, Callaghan expressed pleasure with the way the Wolves played on the attack, mixing transition baskets with the fruits of their set-up offense.“We were patient in the halfcourt offense,” he said. “We want to break, but if it’s not there, we also want to be able to grind it out a little. We did a good job with that.”Dudley and reserve guard Tyler Mayfield led the balanced SK offense with 12 points each, and Buck Savage added 11. Jimmie Moore finished with 12 points for the Knights, and Stitt had 10."

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