Wolves have a date at state

After waiting 25 years to make it back to the 4A boys basketball state tournament last year, the South Kitsap High School boys basketball team are starting to make the trip to the Tacoma Dome seem routine.

To make it to state, SK needed a win against Federal Way Thursday night at Puyallup High School.

After surviving two loser-out games, SK made sure it didn’t have to play Saturday for the seventh and final state berth with a 52-41 win.

SK will enter the state tournament as a No. 6 seed out of the West Central District tournament.

Federal Way plays Kentwood today for the final state berth.

Judging by the first half, it was tough to know which team was going to win.

Both teams failed to find a rhythm in the first half, and the 17-16 halftime score proved it.

In the first two minutes of the third quarter Federal Way’s Andre Piper-Jordan lit up the Wolves with eight points, including a pair of three-pointers to give Federal Way a 25-21 lead.

SK came back to tie the score 28-28 on Tremaine Curry’s three-pointer.

It was then the Wolves broke the game open with an 8-0 run to close the quarter.

Curry, who struggled in the first half, provided the momentum shift that changed the complexion of the game.

Brian Cox provided a lift with a three-pointer to give SK a 31-28 lead.

On the ensuing possession Federal Way’s William Reese missed an easy layup and Curry converted Reese’s miss into a three-point play on the other end.

His free throw pushed SK’s lead to 34-28 with under 20 seconds to play in the quarter.

“We were up two, then (William) Reese missed a layup and they came down

and made a three-point play,” Federal Way coach Jerome Collins said. “That was a momentum swing. Rather than us being up four, they were up by one.”

SK built on its momentum when Adam Bennett scored a put-back layup at the buzzer to give a jubilant Wolves squad a 36-28 lead going into the fourth quarter.

SK extended its lead to 13 points, but Federal Way cut it to eight points halfway through the fourth before Piper-Jordan was called for a foul and technical foul for falling to the floor in disagreement with the call.

SK committed turnovers late in the game but Federal Way couldn’t cash them in to draw any closer.

Beitinger led SK with 15 points, including 11 in the second half.

Curry scored all nine of his points in the second half.

Bennett chipped in with eight points, Cox had seven, and Jason Boyd, who was SK’s leading scorer at halftime, scored all six points of his points in the first half.

SK’s first-half lull was attributed to Federal Way’s zone defense, which SK has struggled with at times offensively.

Callaghan was complimentary of Federal Way’s zone but was more critical of his team’s lack of offense against it.

“Sometimes we get stuck to one side and stay there instead of reversing (the ball),” Callag-han said. “We still need to work on our zone offense, obviously.”

Beitinger said it was a matter of getting comfortable on the court.

“I can’t even explain what happened in the first half,” he said. “I guess it takes a half to get my engine going. In the first half, it just took us a while to figure out their zone. In the third quarter we picked it apart and chose our spots.”

Collins said SK did a nice job of finding the open man against his zone defense.

“We had a lull and broke down defensively,” Collins said. “Their guards penetrated and dished to their big kids for uncontested lay-ins. That killed us.”

Ironically, it was SK’s move to a zone defense in the fourth quarter that stifled Federal Way on offense.

“Once they went to the zone we didn’t get good passing lanes,” Collins said. “It was just poor execution on our part.”

Callaghan attributed SK’s win to fitness.

“Fatigue became a bit of a factor (for Federal Way),” Callaghan said. “We’ve done our share of conditioning. I think the conditioning has paid off for us in the second half of most games.”

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