SK's other big man

It almost seems impossible for someone who stands 6-7 to be in the so-called shadow of another. But that’s the case with South Kitsap’s Adam Bennett — sort of.

“It’s no big deal,” Bennett said. “It’s almost easier that way.”

The shadow that falls on Bennett belongs to 6-8 teammate and fellow senior Jake Beitinger, Bennett’s best friend and fellow post player on the Wolves’

basketball team. It’s been that way since the two started playing at South Kitsap; Beitinger gets the headlines and Bennett gets lost in the shuffle.

But then it depends on who you ask.

“I really don’t like to look at it that way,” Beitinger said. “If that’s the way people see it, then that’s the way it’s going to be seen. Adam has a certain way of playing and I’ve got a certain way of playing, and I think our two styles really mesh well within the system that (coach John Callaghan) runs.”

The two, tabbed as the “Twin Towers,” helped lead the Wolves to a fifth-place finish in last year’s Class 4A state tournament and have carried the load this year as the team struggled early in finding replacements for the graduated Brian Cox, Trivone Curry and Nate Seitz.

The Wolves got off to a rough 1-4 start, but have recovered with a pair of Narrows League Bridge Division wins and now stand at 3-4.

Through it all, the talk has been about Beitinger, who signed to play at Division I Eastern Washington before the season started.

“It would definitely be harder to be in his shoes because all eyes are on him, and there’s a lot of pressure with that,” Bennett said of Beitinger. “I feel like I have the easier job; not all eyes are usually on me, so I can kind of sneak in there and do some stuff and kind of go away unnoticed, and that’s OK.”

So far those roles have seen Bennett average 12 points and seven rebounds a game. Beitinger is scoring right at 15 a game and pulling down 12 boards.

“Some people may perceive that Adam plays second-fiddle, but everyone has a role to play on the basketball team,” Callaghan said. “And I think both those guys play their roles to the best of their abilities.

“I think that sometimes, Jake maybe gets a little more of the limelight,” Callaghan said. “But I think he gets a little bit more of the criticism, too. Adam has always kind of done the dirty work.”

Callaghan said he usually has Bennett guard the opposing team’s best offensive post player. That frees Beitinger up to score and rebound more, which, in turn, produces higher numbers and more publicity.

“Both of those guys are all about the team,” Callaghan said. “And I think that’s why they have such a good relationship off the court as well as on the court.”

But don’t think the two can’t or won’t switch roles when it’s necessary. That happened at last year’s state tournament.

“That’s where Adam came out of the shadow a little bit, if that’s the way you want to look at it,” Callaghan said. “Jake was struggling a little bit at state last year and Adam kind of came to the forefront as far as scoring and rebounding and that type of thing.”

It was Bennett’s 20 points that propelled the Wolves past Bethel, 46-36, and into the fifth-place game against Walla Walla. The Wolves won 49-46 in overtime.

It was Bennett’s freshman year that the two became teammates. Beitinger attended Cedar Heights Junior High, while Bennett went to Segwick.

Both played for South Kitsap their freshman year due to the levy failure, with Beitinger going straight to the varsity team and Bennett seeing time on the JV team before coming up late in the year. That started the perception of Bennett being the sidekick.

“It’s kind of been that way all along,” Bennett said. “But there’s no problem with that, definitely noproblem with that.”

“They’re both incredibly talented basketball players,” Callaghan said. “They’re good guys; they’re great students and they’re accepting of whatever role they need to play to help the team succeed. Adam and Jake will sacrifice personal glory if it meant for our team to succeed.”

Besides the success he’s seen on the court, Bennett has also seen plenty of solo time on the tennis court as well, playing for the Wolves during the fall.

“Tennis is more of a relaxing sport for me,” Bennett said. “It gets me ready for basketball. We do some running, so I get in shape a little bit. But I play

doubles, so it’s not just me, but it’s nice because we’re doing good this year.”

Bennett also shines in the classroom, carrying a GPA that is in the 3.9 range.

“It’s something that was instilled in me by my parents,” Bennett said. (They) hop on me if I’m slacking off. I take as much pride in the classroom as I do on the basketball court.”

It’s that kind of drive that has colleges like the University of Puget Sound and Whitworth taking a long look at Bennett.

“I’m really not sure what I want to do yet,” Bennett said. “Whether I’m going to be playing basketball in college or not playing basketball, I’m not sure. I’m

going to talk with the people that are close to me — my family, coach, and I’ll probably talk to Jake about it.

“It’s one of those things where I have to see where my best opportunity lies,” Bennett said. “If that’s in basketball, then so be it. But if not, there’s a lot more out there. I could go the academic way. Hopefully, I can play ball and if not, then that’s fine too.”

Although Bennett will most likely major in business or law, he said he is also interested in a sports management program at Washington State. That could

lead to a career working on behalf of professional athletes, possibly someone like Beitinger, he joked.

Which would mean more time in the shadow.

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