Loss puts Wolves in tight spot

Although no one was ever quite sure what the true final score of Wednesday’s Bridge Division girls’ basketball game pitting Central and South Kitsap was, one thing SK coach Mike Allen is sure of is that the coming week will make or break the season for his Wolves.

“If we don’t win our next four games,” Allen said after the 39-35 loss, “we can seriously look at postseason not being an option for us.”

The loss dropped the Wolves to 6-6 overall and 3-3 in league play while Central improved to 9-4 and 5-2, good enough for third place in the division.

South is in the midst of a four-game stretch that began Friday night at Shelton (8-5, 4-3) and wraps up next week with a game against league-leading Port Angeles and a pair of games with second place Gig Harbor.

“That’s just reality,” Allen said. “We have to get these next four games otherwise we’re just going to be buried and it will hard to come back out from that.”

Wednesday’s game, which saw a five-minute stoppage of play late in the third quarter due to uncertainty about the score, turned out to be big for Central, keeping the Cougars in the playoff hunt.

“It was a big win for us,” CK coach Denise Baxter said. “Anytime you can come in here, and this is always a tough place for us to play, it’s always a war, and to get out with a win, it’s good.”

But the scoring error almost changed all of that.

With South leading 23-22 with two minutes remaining in the quarter, Central’s Amy Spieker hit a long bucket that was called a two-pointer but three points were put up on the scoreboard.

South’s Megan Gilbert followed with a basket to make the score 25-24 South. But after a delay, it was determined that South led 27-25.

Although the outcome of the game was not in doubt because of the score, Allen said his team’s performance down the stretch was.

“It’s an inability to close out a game at this point,” Allen said. “It’s been our struggle all season. Even when we’ve been up in games, we’ve given up a lot of points in the last couple of minutes.

“We just don’t do a very good job down the stretch and we’ve practiced it like crazy,” Allen said. “We do situational stuff every day, and we work and work and work and we just haven’t figured it out yet, I guess.”

Once again, the Wolves led late but watched the game slip away as Central hit clutch baskets and got key turnovers.

“We had some miscues a couple of times but they didn’t end up hurting us because we got some turnovers,” Baxter said. “And we got some key rebounds when we really needed to.”

The Cougars overcame poor shooting in the first half, led by Emily Zygmontowicz’s 10 first-half points. The junior guard ended the night with 14 points.

“The thing about Emily is she just works hard,” Baxter said. “And she’s so competitive and sometimes the competitiveness gets the best of her, and when that happens she just needs to relax and calm a little bit. When she does, she’s just phenomenal.”

Allen said the game went as expected for the most part.

“I didn’t expect it to be 19-12,” Allen said of the low-scoring first half. “I don’t think it was as much of a defensive struggle as it was a poor-shooting struggle. I think we had a good game plan coming in and we defended them like we needed to. (In the second half) I think we might have gotten a little tentative. We didn’t get out in the lanes as much.”

Central took South’s star post Loni Tostenrude out of the game in the second half, double-teaming her and denying passes inside.

Tostenrude scored just four second-half points after netting eight in the first two quarters.

“Loni is our scorer, and they know that. There’s no mystery there if you look at the box score,” Allen said. “So they double-teamed her and we didn’t get any scoring out of other people. She didn’t get good looks, that’s for sure. They did a good job of defending her and we didn’t do a good job of getting the ball to other people.”

Central Kitsap 39, South Kitsap 35

Central Kitsap 7 5 13 14_39

South Kitsap 12 7 8 8_35

Central Kitsap – Randie Lee 8, Kaitlin Poppe, Aimee Carroll 2, Emily Zygmontowicz 14, Amy Spieker 8, Megan Hoisington 6.

South Kitsap – Christina Bui 4, Shamika Curtis 4, Leah Bradley 5, Jamie McLean, Loni Tostenrude 12, Megan Gilbert 4, Sierra Vinson 4.

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