SK, Tides play for all the marbles

Nothing could be more poetic than having South Kitsap and Gig Harbor play its rubber match with everything on the line.

That was the case between the heated rivals last night in a high school boys basketball game at Puyallup High School, as both squads were playing to stay alive in the loser-out bracket of the West Central District tournament.

Results of the game were unavailable at press time, but SK coach John Callaghan and his players said they were confident they would wake up this morning still vying for a berth into the 4A state basketball tournament.

After losing three of its last five games, SK regained its confidence with a solid 61-54 win against Foss Saturday at Auburn.

If SK defeated Gig Harbor last night, it will have two more chances to earn a berth to the state tournament.

A win would pit SK against the winner between Curtis and Federal Way tomorrow night at Puyallup High at 8 p.m.

The winner of that game earns the No. 6 seed into the state tournament.

The season would not be over for the loser, though. The loser of that game would move into a game for the seventh and final state berth.

Callaghan said the team was desperate Saturday for a confidence boost after losing three of its last five games.

“We were bruised and battered, but we played our hearts out against Foss,” Callaghan said. “Battle Ground and Mount Tahoma were heartbreakers, but we hung in there and ought to be commended for that.”

After surviving a bi-polar first-half against Foss, SK came out like gangbusters in the third quarter.

SK opened the game with a 13-2 lead only to watch Foss end the half on a 24-9 run to take a 26-22 lead.

An upset SK bench cooled off in the locker room and whatever Callaghan told his players worked.

After scoring six points in the first half, SK sophomore Jake Beitinger took over in the second half with 19 points.

Being more aggressive away from the hoop is something Beitinger said he’s been working on lately.

“I shied away from that in the first part of the season and towards the second part I tried to work on it more and more,” Beitinger said. “I put it to use in this game.”

Senior Tremaine Curry wasn’t about to let his prep career go down in flames.

He added 13 of his 16 points in the second half.

The taller Wolves team did struggle on the boards, though, which drew criticism from Callaghan.

“They just boarded the crap out of us,” Callaghan said. “We weren’t making contact.”

Beitinger and fellow sophomore post Adam Bennett both admitted they needed to be more aggressive, especially in the first half.

“We get out-boarded when we don’t play intense enough,” Bennett said. “It does get frustrating, but it makes you want to work harder.”

Beitinger said the lack of rebounding may have come a good time, since SK was gearing up for Gig Harbor.

“Our intensity was not as great as it should have been,” Beitinger said. “We can’t have that if we want to get into the state tournament.”

Callaghan said beating Foss may have set a tone for the rest of SK’s opponents.

“They’re all good from here on out but our ultimate goal is to get to state,” he said. “We expect to go to state. All of us would be disappointed if we don’t make it to that step.”

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