Wolves move away from pack

It’s easy to say the next game is the biggest game of the year.

For the South Kitsap High School boys basketball team, a 69-57 win against a surging Bremerton Knights proved pivotal in the Narrows League Bridge Division.

Playing in front of soldout home crowd for the first time in nearly 25 years, the Wolves’ 24-11 first quarter proved to be the difference in the game as SK improved to 7-1 in the division, 13-1 overall.

Bremerton, which entered the game winners of six of the last seven games, needed the win to pull within a game of second place.

Instead, the loss created a bigger gap in the standings.

SK’s win, coupled by Gig Harbor’s 59-50 loss at Shelton put the two teams in first-place tie.

Gig Harbor invades the SK gym Feb. 5 for a game that in all probability will decide the Bridge Divi-sion champion.

While first and second place is all but solidified, Bremerton, Olympic, and Shelton are in a third place logjam with identical 4-4 records.

Port Angeles and Central Kit-sap are just one game behind in what will be a wild run for the final two playoff spots.

SK, which defeated Bremerton 61-45 in December, didn’t do anything different defensively despite the surging play of Bremerton junior phenom, Marvin Williams.

Williams was averaging 30 points and 15 rebounds per game over the last seven games.

But SK coach John Callaghan said he stuck with the same game plan as the first encounter.

“We didn’t have to do anything different,” Callaghan said. “We went to a diamond (zone) defense and put Adam (Bennett) on him for most of the night.”

Bennett helped keep Williams without a field goal in the first game. He proved to be a tough defender again, helping to hold Williams to 12 points through the first three quarters.

When Bennett needed a breather, SK reserve Cody McCulley came in and picked up where Bennett left off.

Meanwhile, SK senior post Jake Beitinger, who scored a team-high 20 points, said Bennett and McCulley came up huge defensively. “Bennett is a tough, tough defender,” Beitinger said. “He had Marvin where he wanted him.”

Williams battled back in the fourth quarter for 10 points, but the game was all but over because the Wolves continued to match Bremerton point for point in the final frame.

Noah Garguile helped Bremerton’s cause with a 19 points and nine rebounds, and Phil Houston chipped in 12.

SK’s Nate Seitz popped in 15 points, and Bennett added 14 points.

SK senior guard Brian Cox said the way SK won the game may be the turning point for a team that was recently struggling to find itself.

Though they had been winning games re-cently, the Wolves had to rely on their de-fense because of recent offensive woes against zone defense.

After a coming out game against Brem-erton and its zone defense, Cox said the team should play a better brand of basketball the rest of the season.

Keeping the intensity up against lower tier teams will be the biggest challenge, Cox said. It starts tonight at 7 p.m. when SK travels to struggling North Kitsap (0-8, 1-12).

McCulley said there’s no question the team needs keep up the intensity all year long.

“We just have to keep winning against teams that we’re supped to beat,” McCulley said. “We can’t go into a game thinking one is more important than the other. Of course we get more up for Gig Harbor and Bremerton because they’re our rivals. But we have to treat each team with the same respect.”

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