SK trumps Knights at charity stripe

The hype lived up to its billing.

In front of a packed South Kitsap High School gym, the SK boys basketball team recovered from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to bounce the Bremerton Knights 64-60 in the teams’ Narrows League Bridge Division opener Wednesday night.

SK took its 4-0 record into last night’s game at North Kitsap.

Bremerton fell to 2-4 overall heading into its non-conference game at home against North Mason last night.

SK nailed 20 of 24 free throws in the fourth quarter, led by Tyler Mayfield, who hit eight of 10 from the line before suffering a cut above his right eye from a Kellen Alley screen.

Mayfield missed the final three minutes but led all scorers with 18 points.

Tremaine Curry, Brian Cox and Jason Boyd were equally effective at the free throw line, shooting 100 percent (6-6) down the stretch.

Bremerton led the game from the end of the first quarter until the 2:21 mark of the fourth quarter when Cox tied it at 56-56 on a three-point bucket deep from the right corner.

“Yeah, it felt pretty good (on the release),” Cox said. “It was a big shot, I guess, and it got the crowd up. I feed off the crowd, so I loved it.”

Curry gave SK its first lead since the first quarter with a pair of free throws, but Bremerton guard Zack Otis countered with a three pointer to give Bremerton a 59-58 lead.

SK regained the lead on a Jake Beitinger layup with 1:17 left.

On Bremerton’s next possession, Alley had his turnaround jumper blocked but Otis snagged the loose ball and had an open look from beyond the three-point arch.

But as Otis went up to shoot, the ball slipped out of his hands and Cox recovered the ball and drew a foul.

His two free throws pushed SK’s lead to 62-59 with 20 seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, Bremerton’s Michael Stitt got open and drew a foul with nine seconds remaining.

He hit one of two free throws to cut SK’s lead to 62-60.

Bremerton fouled Boyd with six seconds left, and he calmly hit both free throws to secure the four-point win.

Alley (no points) and sophomore phenom Marvin Williams (six points) were non-factors in the game because of early foul trouble. Williams eventually fouled out early in the fourth quarter.

Foul trouble could have been an excuse for Bremerton’s loss, but it held a 35-25 lead at halftime without Alley and Williams for most of the first half.

Otis said the game came down to free throws.

While SK hit 30 of 38 free throws for the game, Bremerton hit just 10 of 19.

“I felt we came out and played really hard,” Otis said. “We just didn’t get to the line as much as we wanted to. They went to the line 24 times and we got to the line two times. That’s a big difference.”

SK coach John Callaghan said the constant trips to the free throw line were a result of the offense attacking the basket.

“A lot of the fouls we got were going to the hoop, whereas in the first half we were fading away and shooting three pointers,” Callaghan said. “We were fundamentally way better in the second half offensively and defensively.

Stitt said the loss was a shock to him considering Bremerton’s dominance for the majority of the game.

“We had a lead for most of the second half,” he said. “They played pretty aggressive and worked their way back. Give them a lot of credit; they hit almost all their free throws.”

Boyd said he was never worried about the game, even though SK entered halftime with a 10-point deficit.

“We got a little frustrated at half, but coach cooled us down and told us to play smart,” Boyd said.

Boyd said the team’s defense is making a huge difference in games so far.

“Lately in practice, we’ve been going at (defensively),” he said. “Coach has been getting on us hard. Everybody on this team wants it that much. Every day at practice we treat every practice like the next day is the state championship game.”

SK plays at Port Angeles Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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