Surging Wolves make statement

Coach John Callaghan couldn’t have scripted the holiday break any better.

And after his team’s performance last week in the Oh Boy! Oberto Christmas Classic last week, why would he have wanted to?

All the South Kitsap boys basketball team did during its two-week break was add three more wins to its season total, return from a visit across the Sound with a tournament trophy, prove to itself it can play with the big boys while coming back from what looked like an insurmountable deficit and drove home the point that, yes, they are a pretty good little basketball team.

“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” Callaghan said. “We had a lot of guys that played and a lot of guys made big plays for us.”

The Wolves, now 7-0 on the year and 2-0 in the Narrows League Bridge Division, return to league action tonight at Gig Harbor and close out the week by playing host to Bremerton.

And the league should take notice of a team that learned a lot about itself over the break. South took home the Oberto trophy after posting wins over Renton (82-65), Roosevelt (64-58 in OT) and Kennedy (68-46).

But it was the win over Roosevelt that gives this team a lot of momentum heading back into league play.

Facing the Roughriders and Arizona-bound Marcus Williams in the semifinals, South struggled early and found itself down 14 points entering the final period. But a stingy full-court defense and a couple of huge shots led to an overtime win in a game that ended up with a bit of a playoff atmosphere about it.

“I think it gives us confidence,” Callaghan said. “Now we know we can come back from any kind of deficit, and that’s awesome for us. The kids had confidence going in, but it gives them a little bit more now. It was a great win for us.”

Williams, a 6-7 guard/forward, got his points — 32 of them, in all — but it was the way the Wolves responded in the end that makes that game stand out. SK’s big five — Derrick Webb, Jamil Moore, Conner Gehring, Tippy Burk and Josh Monagle — did the job and then some.

Monagle clogged up the middle and scored nine points, while Burk ran the show, making sure everyone got the ball, and scored 12 points before fouling out. Gehring, Moore and Webb each took a turn at guarding Williams and all three hit big shots to spur the comeback.

Webb scored a team-high 16, while Gehring nailed two key free throws and ended with 10. But it was Moore, who battled with Williams the most and scored 13 points, who hit a three-pointer with just a second left that put the game into overtime.

“It was a big lesson for us to learn,” Callaghan said. “We had to suck it up and play harder. We had a lot of guys hit a lot of big shots.”

In the tourney’s opening game against Renton, Webb went off for a game-high 22 points, while Burk netted 18, Monagle 15 and Gehring 12.

The Wolves took home the title by pulling away from Kennedy at the end of the third quarter behind 19 from Webb, 18 from Gehring and nine from Monagle.

Gehring, a junior wing, and Webb, a senior guard, really opened up their offensive games during the tournament.

Gehring scored 40 points in three games while Webb netted 57 to lead the team. Moore, a senior wing, also got into the scoring mix with 33 points in three games.

But Wolves also got some solid minutes and play from their bench, including Joe Pisa, Ryan Sweet and L.P. Neloms, all of whom will contribute down the road, Callaghan said.

“We got what we needed,” Callaghan said. “We got tested by some good teams away from home.”

But now the attention turns back toward the Narrows League and the task at hand will not be an easy one, starting with tonight game at Gig Harbor (4-4, 1-1).

“It’s a tough place to play,” Callaghan said.

Senior guard Mike Fish and junior center Ryan Christensen lead the Tides, which are coming off a 1-1 performance in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament last week.

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