Wolves fall short to CK, now face playoff match

The strangest thing about South Kitsap’s 58-45 loss to Central Kitsap Friday night wasn’t the unusually bad play by the Wolves basketball team or the unusually high percentage of low-percentage shots that fell for the Cougars.

It was South coach John Callaghan’s surprisingly calm demeanor just minutes after the game, as if he knew that something good can and will come from the loss.

“As painful as losing is, I think we’re going to learn something from this,” Callaghan said. “No one ever wants to lose, but I think we’re definitely going to be better from this and we’re going to learn a few things — we already did, I think.”

Hopefully for the Wolves, they learned how to better shut down Central’s 6-6 post Brice Brooks, considering they will see him again at 8 p.m. tonight at Bremerton High in a playoff game to determine the order of play for Saturday’s Narrows League playoff games.

Brooks burned the Wolves for 25 points and made some unbelievable 3-pointers in leading Central, 15-4, to a regular season tie with South, 14-6, atop the Bridge Division with 12-2 league marks.

The winner of tonight’s contest will face Mount Tahoma in a crossover game to determine the league champion. The loser gets Bellarmine Prep to decide the third- and fourth-place teams.

The top four teams from the Narrows League advance to the West Central District Tournament and play host in the opening round games beginning Wednesday night.

And the third game between the two teams should be as entertaining as the first two.

“Every year we play South, we’ve been ahead by a couple of points going into the fourth quarter,” Brooks said. “But they always come back to beat us. I started to get a little scared because they looked like they were going to do it to us again. But this time, we just pulled ahead and got it.”

South won the first meeting 58-47 on Jan. 21, overcoming a 10-point deficit to begin the final quarter. The Wolves trailed 39-31 going into the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game but cut the lead to just one with four minutes, 42 seconds remaining, giving everyone involved a severe case of deja vu.

“It was the very same scenario as last time,” Central coach Tim Fryer said. “But we went back to our tempo and instead of being defensive, we had to play aggressive.”

This time, the Cougars kept hitting their shots, including 12 straight free throws down the stretch while South uncharacteristically missed shots, mainly six free throws in the final quarter.

“They played well. You have to hand it to them,” Callaghan said. “I don’t think we played all that well or all that intelligently, but you have to hand it to them. I mean, they deserved it. They played hard, and our guys, I think we played hard.”

Brooks took over the scoring responsibilities as South shut down Central’s standout guard Neil Fryer, nailing four 3-pointers.

“Brooks, oh man, at times he was amazing,” Callaghan said. “Most of the time we had a guy right there but he was pretty impressive tonight.”

So was Central’s defense, a new one that Tim Fryer said he will continue to use in the district tournament.

“It’s just something new I thought we’d try and it worked,” Tim Fryer said. “So we’ll keep it.”

The Cougars’ defensive pressure caused some unusually tentative play out of South.

“For whatever reason, we ended up just standing. I mean, we’re just standing,” Callaghan said. “That’s the first time we’ve really been tentative like that. We didn’t play with any intelligence, at times, in doing the things that we’ve been doing that have made us succeed.”

South’s senior post Jake Beitinger wasn’t at all tentative, pounding his way through the middle of the Central defense to score 23 hard-earned points. Junior guards Jamil Moore and Derrick Webb added eight and nine points respectively. Brooks’ 25 led all scorers, while J.R. Gordon scored 11 off the bench for Central.

But through it all, Callaghan seemed to be at peace with the loss, which snapped a 12-game Bridge Division winning streak for the Wolves.

“We needed it,” Callaghan said. “Sometimes success is a hard thing to handle, so it’s good for us.

“Sometimes life is kind enough to offer you a second chance,” Callaghan said. “So we’ve got a second chance and hopefully we’ll make the most of it.”

Central Kitsap 58, South Kitsap 45

Central Kitsap 12 19 8 19 — 58

South Kitsap 11 10 10 14 — 45

Central Kitsap - Jeff Acres 2, Sam Weller 9, Neil Fryer 6, Brice Brooks 25, Lee Miller 5, JR Gordon 11.

South Kitsap - Conner Gehring 3, Jamil Morre 8, Derrick Webb 9, Adam Bennett, Jake Beitinger 23, Mike Lizama 2.

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