Beitinger, Bennett close out careers together

When Jake Beitinger first encountered Adam Bennett some four years ago, he couldn’t stand the guy.

“I remember when I met him my freshman year, he didn’t say a word,” Beitinger said. “I thought he was the biggest jerk I had ever met. Then we went to a summer camp at Gonzaga and he came out of his shell and became my best friend.”

That was the beginning of a partnership that took the South Kitsap basketball program to heights it had never scaled before, culminating with Saturday night’s second-place finish at the state tournament and a friendship that looks to continue in the years to come.

“Really, when it comes to Jake, I’m at a loss for words,” Bennett said. “He means so much to me. I’m just real sad it’s come to an end. More than anything, I think we’re a little bit more disappointed that the season’s over. The five months are over and our run is kind of over but it’s been a lot of fun.”

Beitinger and Bennett played their final game together as South Kitsap Wolves Saturday, losing to Kentwood 65-56 in the final of the Class 4A state tournament in the Tacoma Dome, bringing an end to a sensational season and a magical career for the duo.

“Even if we would have won tonight, it would be hard,” South Kitsap Coach John Callaghan said. “The finality sets in. I remember it being that way last year. Even when you win, the finality of it sets in.

“Those guys, I can’t even begin to tell you what they’ve meant to this program,” Callaghan said. “They will always be welcome, they will always be part of South Kitsap basketball.”

The pair ruled over the best four-year span ever in South Kitsap basketball history, compiling a record of 84-28 and taking their team to the state tournament each of the four years they played.

And even better, improving on their final result each year. After going 0-2 in the 2001, the Wolves took eighth place in 2002, improved on that with a fifth-place showing last year and played for the title in the pair’s final appearance in the Dome.

“The last four years, I think about how we succeeded ourselves each year, just doing better than we have the previous year,” Beitinger said. “Proving people wrong, especially this year, in meeting all those expectations.”

“I don’t think I would have ever expected any of this,” Bennett said. “Going to state all four years is definitely an accomplishment, and it’s phenomenal for Jake and I. Playing with these guys and playing for Coach Callaghan and the rest of the coaching staff has been an awesome experience. It doesn’t get much better than playing for South Kitsap basketball.”

Both will take part in an upcoming all-senior all-star game later this month before heading off to college next fall.

Beitinger, a 6-8 forward, is headed to Eastern Washington next year.

“I know Eastern is getting more than they know in Jacob,” Callaghan said. “He’s going to do really well there, I’m totally confident of that. And wherever Adam goes, he’s going to do well. He’s hard work will always pay off.”

Bennett, a 6-7 forward, is still undecided on his future but is looking at Whitworth College in Spokane — just up the road from Beitinger’s destination in Cheney.

“I’m hoping that maybe if I make the trip out to Whitworth, maybe we’ll see quite a bit of each other,” Bennett said. “It’s been a blessing playing with him and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else.”

“I don’t know what I would have done without him,” Beitinger said. “I wouldn’t be the player I am if he wasn’t there pushing me every day in practice. He’s my best friend off the court, too, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when he’s not around at college next year. I love the guy. He’s done a lot for me.”

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