South suffers first loss of season

This time, the ball bounced Bethel’s way.

After losing four straight games to South Kitsap over the last three years, including their only two losses last year, the second-ranked Braves handed the top-ranked Wolves their first loss of the season Saturday night and claimed the West/Central District III Class 4A title in the process with a thrilling 54-53 win.

The win sends the Braves, 24-2, into this week’s Class 4A state tournament in the Tacoma Dome as the district’s No. 1 seed while South, now 24-1, goes into Wednesday’s first round as the district’s No. 2 seed.

“Sometimes that’s the best thing,” South coach John Callaghan said. “To taste that so you know you don’t want to taste it again.”

The loss was South’s first since the Class 4A final last March, a 65-56 loss to Kentwood, and spoiled a great performance by the Wolves’ Derrick Webb.

Webb, a senior guard, scored 27 points, 16 in the second half, and pulled down six rebounds in the loss. He also went in for the game’s final shot but couldn’t get one off.

“This doesn’t feel good,” Webb said. “But I see this as a good learning experience for us. We’ve got some big ones coming up, this one doesn’t matter and I told the guys that. We’re going to come out hard at the Tacoma Dome.”

Brackets for the 16-team state tournament that begins Wednesday, will be released Sunday afternoon.

Webb, who has shined throughout the playoffs, took the loss hard but said the Wolves can’t waste anymore time thinking about it.

“No time, we have to get this one off our backs right now,” Webb said. “We can’t think about it anymore.”

The fifth meeting between these two teams in the last four years was another instant classic as neither team could open up more than a seven-point lead. But the turning point came late in the fourth as Bethel overcame a 51-47 deficit with three minutes left by scoring seven-straight points.

The Braves held the advantage till the end when Webb tired to get off a last-second shoot but was denied and shots by Conner Gehring and Jamil Moore wouldn’t go down.

“Derrick is playing with a lot of confidence right now and he will continue too,” Callaghan said. “But I think all of our guys played well – we played hard but Bethel is a great team and it came down to a couple of possessions and that was the difference.”

Webb’s 27 lead all scorers while The Braves’ Jamil Turner and Alex Tiefenthaler netted 13 each. Turner scored six points the game’s final four minutes to help get the Braves the win.

“We played a great fourth quarter I thought,” Bethel coach Pat Mullen said. “And I think our kids really gutted it out in the end. It’s nothing that we did or nothing that they did. That’s a very good basketball team and we were fortunate to win.”

Callaghan must now take a team that was primed to run the table this season and get them emotional ready for the state tournament. And he said he’s not worried about his team’s psyche in the least.

“Oh no, not at all,” Callaghan said. “You learn a lot more from a loss than you do from a win.

“We play to win every game,” Callaghan said. “Obviously, this is going to be a great learning experience for us. It’s painful and that’s good because we don’t want to taste that. As painful as it is, I think we’re going to learn huge from this.”

Bethel 54, South Kitsap 53

Score by quarters

Bethel 14 12 16 12_54

South Kitsap 12 19 14 8_53

Bethel – Jordan Sutton 11, 0-0_11; Mike Yusko 2, 1-2_3; Jamil Turner 12, 1-2_13; Alex Tiefenthaler 12, 1-2_13; Brandon Moore 10, 1-2_11; Ryan Purugganan 3, 0-0_3. Team totals: 50, 4-8_54.

South Kitsap – Conner Gehring 2, 0-0_2; Tippy Burk 5, 1-2_6; Jamil Moore 3, 1-4_4; Derrick Webb 24, 3-3_27; Josh Monagle 4, 0-0_4; Ryan Sweet 0, 0-0_0; Connor McPherson 4, 0-0_4; LP Neloms 6, 0-0_6. Team totals: 48, 5-0_53.

Three-pointers: Sutton, Tiefenthaler 2, Purugganan, Burk, JMoore, Webb 4, Neloms 2. Rebounds: Tiefenthaler 9, Turner 7, BMoore 6, Webb 6, Monagle 4.

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