SK braces for Gig Harbor

As much as they looked forward to their home game against Gig Harbor tonight at 7 p.m., the South Kitsap High School boys basketball team knew it needed to concentrate on Port Angeles on Friday night.

Port Angeles is famous for having some of the worst officiating in the state, but every team in the Narrows League Bridge Division must make a stop there.

The Wolves did just that, stopping at times on the court to burn up the clock en route to a low-scoring 48-32 win.

The win set up the biggest game of the year in the Bridge Division.

Gig Harbor and SK enter tonight’s game with identical 13-1 records in the division. The Tides will also look to be the first team to win on SK’s home floor since Mount Tahoma won 65-64 on Dec.13, 2000.

Since that loss, the Wolves have won 21 straight at home. More importantly, a win for SK would give it a much needed one-game cushion with three games remaining in the regular season.

SK coach John Callaghan said there’s no question how important this game is. “The whole year is important, but (tonight) we’ll have an added bonus,” he said.

The Wolves will also look to avenge its lone loss of the year against the Tides. SK was clearly overmatched in the first encounter as it went on to lose, 58-40.

“I think last time what happened is we gave up too many easy buckets,” Callaghan said. “We’ve got to make them earn every hoop and do a better job of blocking out (Bill) Forelli. Half of his (26) points came on second chances.”

One thing that resulted from SK’s game at Port Angeles was the Wolves’ ability to play at a slower pace. The snail’s pace of the game clearly didn’t affect SK too much, but Callaghan said PA’s 2-3 zone did force SK into a strategy it rarely uses.

In all, SK burned about five minutes of clock just holding onto the ball while PA sat back in a sagging zone.

The Wolves were able to not play aggressively on offense in the final three minutes of the second quarter because of their 18-12 lead.

SK held PA to just two points in the second quarter, but SK only scored eight of its own.

By the end of the third quarter SK led 28-19.

PA started to come on strong in the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run, but Brian Cox’s 3-pointer with 4:32 to go pushed SK’s lead back to five points.

Trivone Curry had two big steals on three of PA’s next possessions and the Wolves converted each into points.

The Wolves finished off the Roughriders at the free-throw line, hitting 11 of 12 in the fourth quarter.

Though it’s not the type of game he likes to see his players play, Callaghan said he was pleased how his team showed versatility against a different strategy.

“No one likes to play that way,” Callaghan said. “But it’s good for us to be disciplined enough to not turn the ball over. It’s not fun to play like that, but you gotta do what you gotta do.”

SK is a run-and-gun type of team that has dictated the flow of games. Gig Harbor dictated play when it handed SK its only loss last month.

In a surprising turn of events, PA dictated the style of the game but SK outplayed its opponent in all aspects of the game.

Callaghan said PA coach Lee Sinnes was smart to try to slow up the game.

“To their credit, they made it a tactical game,” Callaghan said. “They’ve had some injuries, but I think they’re still hurting, so they felt that’s what they had to do.”

Callaghan said SK’s patience on offense showed him a value that will come in handy when the playoffs begin.

“Sometimes you’ve gotta run and other times you have to be patient and disciplined enough to take care of the ball. I’m happy we were successful in taking care of the ball.”

SK junior post Jacob Beitinger said the team’s worst enemy will only itself.

“Pretty much the only thing that’s going to beat us is us,” Beitinger said.

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