SK thunders into first place

If there was reverence and respect for the tradition of athletic success at South Kitsap High, the Cougars weren’t denying it Wednesday night.

That might be the only way to explain how Central Kitsap lost an 11-point lead with 2:11 remaining in the third quarter — and ultimately the game, 58-47 — to the Wolves.

“They played like they were intimidated,” Central Kitsap coach Tim Fryer said. “They missed lay-ins. We aren’t an inside team.”

But SK (7-5, 5-1 league), which moved past the Cougars into first place with the win, might also have been overly respectful for the first 24 minutes.

“Basically, we played passively for the first three quarters,” said Wolves’ forward Jake Beitinger, who paced SK with 14 points. “We just became more aggressive in the last quarter.”

Connor Gehring, who scored 13 points for the Wolves, showed that when he scored on a drive and converted a free throw to cut CK’s lead to 43-41.

Beitinger then was fouled on consecutive drives, making three of four free throws, to tie the game, 44-44.

SK proceeded to score 10 unanswered points en route to a 20-3 run that left little question about the outcome.

“They battled hard,” said SK coach John Callaghan of the Cougars. “We knew our pressure hopefully would made a difference. Once your legs go, it’s tough to hit the shots.”

CK (8-4, 5-2), which fell into a second-place tie in the Bridge Division with Shelton, didn’t score for more than six minutes until Brice Brooks converted a 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds remaining.

That cut the Cougars’ deficit to 54-47 until consecutive layups by SK’s Derrick Webb and Gehring brought the score to its final.

“South Kitsap played like they’ve been to state a couple of years in a row,” Fryer said. “It’s hard to let that tradition go. Central Kitsap hasn’t had it for a long time, and we’re trying to get it back.”

The Cougars, who finished 9-11 last year, never have made an appearance in the state basketball tournament as a 4A school. South Kitsap, which now has won six of its last seven games, has made the state tournament the last two years and seems poised for its third appearance.

Just don’t tell that to CK’s top player.

“It doesn’t affect us,” said Brooks, who scored a game-high 22 points. “One game doesn’t make a season.”

Brooks eagerly anticipates the regular-season showdown against the Wolves at SK on Feb. 13.

“Of course,” he said. “I want to win the rest of our games and take back first place.”

And building some reverence and respect of their own.

South Kitsap 10 15 9 24_58

Central Kitsap 13 14 14 6_47

Central Kitsap - Jeff Acres 6, Sam Weller 8, Brice Brooks 22, Neil Fryer 11.

South Kitsap - Mike Lizama 5, Jake Beitinger 14, Jamil Moore 9, Connor McPherson 2, Conner Gehring 13, Adam Bennett 9, Rory Cosgrove 2, Derrick Webb 4.

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