SK defense stifles Tides in must win

It’s only the halfway point of the prep basketball season, but South Kitsap’s 52-47 win at home Friday night against No. 9 Gig Harbor is being called the biggest win of the season by members of the team.

A loss would have dropped SK to 1-3 in the Narrows League Bridge Division. Instead, SK takes a 2-2 record into tonight’s game at Olympic at 7:30 p.m.

Facing a team on a nine-game winning streak, SK could have folded.

The Wolves came out firing on all cylinders with a 21-12 first quarter.

But Gig Harbor entered halftime with all the momentum.

The Tides limited the Wolves to three second-quarter points to pull within one point (24-23) at halftime.

Making matters worse, SK lost starting guard Tyler Mayfield to a sprained ankle late in the second quarter.

SK coach John Callaghan said he liked his team’s defensive effort but was concerned with the offensive prowess of Justin Allison — Gig Harbor’s leading scorer.

The 6-3 senior burned SK for 10 points in the first half, but it could have been more as he had nearly half a dozen 3-point attempts rattle in and out of the rim.

Callaghan changed his defense into what’s called a “diamond and one”.

It’s a combination of a zone and man defense, with four players in zone and one player in man.

Diamond and one is designed to shut down a team’s leading scorer and confuse the opponent’s offensive flow.

SK senior Jason Boyd drew the second-half assignment on Allison and it paid off.

Allison was held scoreless in the second half and barely touched the ball.

“I told coach (at halftime) I want him. I want to stop this kid.” Boyd said. “He really didn’t touch the ball. I was just denying everything.”

Callaghan said the diamond defense gave SK the best chance to win the game.

“I think it did just what we wanted it to do,” Callaghan said. “It confused them a bit. We put Jason on (Allison) the whole half. Jason did a great job tonight denying the ball and the rest of our guys did a nice job helping each other out with diamond because it’s not the easiest thing to do.”

What the defense does is force another opponent to step up.

In Gig Harbor’s case, senior guard Matt Enloe stepped up with eight of his 11 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer that pulled the Tides to within one point 48-47 with 39 seconds left.

Gig Harbor put on a press but SK broke it and sophomore Jake Beitinger broke free for a layup to give SK a 50-47 lead with 21 seconds remaining.

Gig Harbor set up for a shot to tie it but a traveling call on Enloe with four seconds left all but ended the threat.

Tremaine Curry was fouled immediately on the inbound pass and calmly sank both free throws to assure the victory.

SK’s offense was led by the post game of Beitinger (16 points) and Adam Bennett (14).

Curry added 11 points and Boyd chipped in six.

Callaghan said he was pleased with his team’s intensity level on both ends of the floor.

“We almost had to be as patient on defense as we were on offense,” he said. “(Gig Harbor) is a patient team. That’s a tough team to beat because they’re not going to make many mistakes.”

Curry said the difference in this game compared to the ones the Wolves should have won against Port Angeles and North Kitsap was intensity.

“That was our whole thing, to come out aggressive,” Curry said. “Those couple of losses we have is just because we weren’t the most aggressive team and it all starts on (defense).”

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