Sports

SK keeps its season alive one more day

For seven quarters, the South Kitsap High School boys basketball looked like a team that didn’t belong at the 4A state tournament.

All the hard work and fortitude it took for the Wolves to make it back to state for a third consecutive year seemed to be wasted under the bright lights of the Tacoma Dome.

Trailing 45-30 in the fourth quarter against Mount Vernon, the tents were all but folded.

But then Brian Cox, who the Wolves have relied upon at crucial times throughout the post season — decided he wasn’t about to let his team go two and out.

Cox scored 10 of his 19 points from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and two overtime periods to lead SK to a 65-61 double-overtime victory Thursday morning.

The win propelled SK into yesterday’s consolation semifinal game against Bethel.

Because the game was played after the Independent’s deadline, results were unavailable at press time.

What SK did do was avoid being one of the first four teams to leave the state tournament without a win.

Thanks to another heroic effort from Cox, the Wolves still saw hope of at least making it to the trophy round on Saturday.

Cox started an 18-3 run in the fourth quarter to help SK overcome a 15-point deficit with a 3-pointer.

Jamil Moore’s free throws and a Nate Seitz 3-pointer then cut the Bulldogs’ lead to seven points.

When Jake Beitinger converted a three-point play midway through the fourth quarter, SK trimmed Mount Vernon’s lead to just four points.

Beitinger struggled from the floor yet still managed 10 points and 11 rebounds.

His 3-pointer with under a minute to play gave SK a one-point lead — its first since an 8-7 advantage in the first quarter.

Kyle Kendrick’s 3-pointer gave Mount Vernon a two-point lead with under a minute to go, but Cox drained two free throws to tie the score and force the game into overtime.

No team led by more than three points in the overtime period until Cox hit two free throws to give the Wolves a 59-56 lead.

Kendrick, heavily defended by Seitz and Trivone Curry, hit an improbable 3-pointer from the corner to tie the score with eight seconds to play.

Cox pushed the ball up the floor but his short running jumpshot bounced off the rim and forced the second overtime period.

With the score knotted at 61, Beitinger hit one of two free throws to push SK up one point.

Curry forced a Chris Williams turnover and dished the ball to Cox, who was immediately fouled with 36 seconds to play.

Cox drilled both free throws to give SK a 64-61 lead.

Williams attempted a 3-pointer on Mount Vernon’s next possession but fell short of the rim.

Beitinger grabbed the air ball and was fouled with 16 seconds to play.

After missing his first free throw, Beitinger hit the second throw to make it 65-61.

Williams cut the lead in half on a layup with 9 seconds remaining, but SK was able to inbound the ball into Cox’s hands, where he calmly sank two more free throws to seal the victory.

Seitz added 15 points for the Wolves.

After an embarrassing 61-36 loss to Central Valley in the first round, and a near-collapse against Mount Vernon, Callaghan said his team was fortunate to earn the right to play against Bethel Friday morning.

“It was a total gut check,” Callaghan said. “They sucked it up and played hard when they had to. I wouldn’t say we played well. You’re going to have days where things don’t go your way. We just played tough. When things weren’t going our way we played harder.”

Callaghan said SK’s defense got stronger as the game wore on into the overtime periods.

“Our pressure got better as the game wore on,” he said. “To our guys’ credit, we hung in there and believed we were going to win.”

Callaghan said he was looking forward to playing Bethel again Friday.

SK handed Bethel a humiliating 48-21 loss on the third day of the state tournament last year.

Only one Bethel starter this year was on last year’s team, but Callaghan said he knew Bethel would out for blood.

“They’re going to want a little piece of us,” Callaghan said on Thursday. “They’ll play that up a little bit. The players weren’t there last year but the coaches were.”

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