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First place up for grabs against Tides
For the first time in John Callaghans coaching career, the South Kitsap High School boys basketball coach is starting to sound like a broken record.
Nothing has changed for the Wolves (7-2, 12-3 overall), whose seven-game winning streak is due in large part to the stifling defense.
The most recent victims were the Port Angeles Roughriders (6-3 Bridge), who lost 59-38 Friday in a Narrows League Bridge Division game at the SK gym.
The win pushed the Wolves (7-2) into sole possession of first place.
But that could change tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Gig Harbor (6-2), which trails by a half-game.
SKs defense has been the anchor through the current seven-game winning streak, causing Callaghan to repeat himself when explaining the keys to his teams wins.
As long as were moving in that direction thats fine by me, Callaghan said jokingly. You can print the same article and change the names. Our guys are playing with some confidence and they should. Theyre working hard and its paying off for them.
His players couldnt agree more.
After holding PA to just 38 points, including two first-quarter points, SK players arent talking about their offense as much as their defense.
Its the way were coming out every single quarter with intensity, senior Tremaine Curry said. We come out like its zero-zero every quarter.
One of the biggest changes in defense has been the post defense.
Sophomores Adam Bennett and Jake Beitinger, along with senior reserves Aaron Metz and Josh Meeker, have been playing defense in front of their opponent.
Only a pass over the top can get to the post, but SK has now mastered the art of backside help.
Weve been working a lot on our help defense to where they dont want to throw it over the top to their post, Curry said. Theyre not going down low now and theyre living and dying by the (three-pointer).
The strategy clearly paid off against PA.
The Roughriders connected on just two of 20 3-point attempts, and finished 14 of 50 from the field (28 percent).
We got beat by a better team, PA coach Lee Sinnes said. South played a very, very good game. Defensively they came out with so much pressure it took us out of our confidence offensively and we hadnt had anybody do that yet.
PA, which entered the game with the Bridge Divisions best defense, got schooled by the divisions best offense.
I think South taught us a lesson, Sinnes said. I gotta give credit to those kids and the coaching staff because they were very well prepared.
Callaghan said it was an important game, but stressed every game from here on out is important.
After getting its revenge against North Kitsap and PA, Curry said the Wolves will be ready for the Tides.
We get them and were alone in first place, Curry said. Its not going to be easy (keeping intensity up) but were going to do it. We know what we need to do to win.
Their names dont show up in the box score all the time, but the contributions of three senior reserve players have played key roles to SKs success. Posts Josh Meeker, Aaron Metz and guard Boya Quichocho have not been depended on for scoring.
But Callaghan said their contribution goes beyond the scoreboard.
All three were swing players who played three quarters of junior varsity and then were eligible to play one quarter of varsity ball.
While Metz and Quichocho were expected to make the team this year, Meekers future was unknown.
Because the football season carried over into the basketball season, Meeker was a late arrival.
But Callaghan said Meeker has more than earned his spot on the team.
Josh has done everything that weve asked of him and then some, Callaghan said. Hes been such a pleasant surprise, not only on the floor but off the floor as well. Hes having a ball, but he works his butt off.
Same thing with Quichocho and Metz. Those guys dont get a lot of ink, but in every one of these games they play a crucial part.
Callaghan said his reserves have maintained the same aggression as the starters.
When they come off the bench we get a burst, he said. Theyre making the most of their minutes.
The numbers dont lie about SKs improved defense.
For the season SK is averaging 63.2 points per game and 63.8 points per game during the seven-game winning streak.
SK has allowed 53.2 points per game for the season.
But during the winning streak, SK is holding its opponents under 50 points a game with a 48.4 ppg average.