Sports

Wolves poised to return to state

What took 26 years to get back to is now becoming an annual affair for the South Kitsap High School boys basketball team.

The Wolves made their first state tournament appearance two years ago, and will begin their quest for a third consecutive berth when it they open the regular season at home against Spanaway Lake on Dec. 6.

South Kitsap coach John Callaghan said he believes his team is talented enough to get there, but the first game of the season feels like a long ways away.

“I definitely think we can get there,” Callaghan said. “They’re a nice group physically but more important, socially and academically.”

Callaghan said the big difference between this year’s squad and the past two state teams is the chemistry the players have on and off the court.

Before any talk about making it to the post-season, Callaghan is still in the midst of selecting the best 12 players to don a varsity uniform.

Then there’s the small matter of defense.

“The kids learned from last year that you are going to have to play some defense to win games,” Callaghan said. “I’m not seeing a whole lot of it now but it’s early. They definitely are able (to play good defense).”

Callaghan’s strength will be the inside game, led by juniors Jake Beitinger (6-8) and Adam Bennett (6-7).

Beitinger, who made the 4A all-state tournament team last year, has been heavily recruited since his breakthrough performance last March.

Callaghan said the depth at the post positions may allow Beitinger to play in the small-forward position because of his ability to shoot from the outside as well.

That will allow Callaghan to go big with his lineup.

Coming off the bench to spell Beitinger and Bennett will be seniors Cody McCulley (6-3), Albert Jenkins (6-4), and possibly transfer Joe Summers (6-4).

Callaghan said Summers may or may not be eligible to play because his transfer from Minnesota is in question.

Senior Joe Riley (6-1) and sophomore Jamil Moore (6-3) round out the post players, though Moore is versatile enough to run at guard, too.

SK’s biggest void being filled is at the guard position.

Gone from last year’s state team are Tyler Mayfield, Jason Boyd and Tremaine Curry.

Filling those spots will be seniors Brian Cox, Trivone Curry and Nate Seitz.

Callaghan said there won’t be as much quickness, but he is “very” comfortable with Cox and Curry sharing the point guard duties.

Callaghan said his biggest concern is finding guards off the bench.

Last year that role was led by Cox and then-senior Boya Quichocho.

This year, Callaghan said he has some tough decisions to make when he “hopefully” makes the final cut today. A grade check on a couple of players, and Summers’ eligibility, will play a big part in who will round out the roster.

Callaghan said junior Richard Fein has looked good early, even though he wasn’t able to play any basketball during the fall because of football commitments.

The same can be said for McCulley, who hasn’t played basketball since his sophomore year because of a knee injury suffered last year.

While SK returns a lot of talent, Callaghan said this year’s team has a different look to past teams.

“Last year we relied a lot on our perimeter players,” he said. “They played key roles for us. This year we have depth on the inside. Off the bench, we need our perimeter to improve.”

Callaghan said he dreads making cuts and players this year have made it especially hard for him to trim the list to 12.

One thing that doesn’t go in favor of seniors is if an underclassman is at least equal in talent to the senior.

As many as four seniors are vying for one spot on the team this year.

Callaghan said he doesn’t think it would be fair to keep a senior on the team if he wouldn’t be guaranteed of playing much.

“It wouldn’t be fair to the senior if there’s no playing time,” Callaghan said.

With an underclassman, Callaghan would have the luxury of having him swing between junior varsity and varsity.

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