Wolves title quest ends in semifinals

First they ran out of magic, then ran out of gas.

And in the end, the South Kitsap boys basketball team walked away from the Class 4A state basketball tournament in the Tacoma Dome with a sixth-place trophy and bag full of unfulfilled dreams.

“Going into this season, I don’t think too many people thought we’d be here on March 12,” South coach John Callaghan said. “I think there are 12 people in that locker room that are the only ones that thought we had a shot at getting back here.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way we played all year,” Callaghan said.

The Wolves ended their year with a pair of tough losses.

A 42-36 loss in the semifinals to Kentwood ended the dream of a return to the title game, while Saturday’s blowout loss to Mountlake Terrace was an example of just going through the motions.

“I’m pretty disappointed,” senior guard Derrick Webb said. “I didn’t play my best, and for that I apologize to my teammates. I’m a senior and I let my team down.”

After starting the tourney off with a complete domination of Roosevelt and a comeback win over North Kitsap, the Wolves had the tables turned on them Friday night by Kentwood in the semifinals and barely went through the motions in Saturday’s third/sixth place game.

“I actually think the Roosevelt game drained us,” coach John Callaghan said. “We were prepared and focused, but it’s hard. It’s four games in four days. With the level of intensity that you have to play with here, it’s difficult.”

In control most of the way against Kentwood, a team South had handily beaten just a week earlier, the Wolves fell apart in the games’ final two minutes, just like so many of their opponents had all year.

This time it was Kentwood that turned up the defensive pressure.

It was Kentwood that made the key shots.

And it was Kentwood that went on to play for the title the Wolves so desperately wanted.

“We weren’t aggressive enough,” Callaghan said. “(Kentwood’s) defense was good, and offensively it seemed like we just weren’t attacking the basket. We were a little passive. They were just the more aggressive team.”

And that’s what must hurt the most to Callaghan and the Wolves.

Time after time this season, they were the ones that had come back to win. They were the ones playing a suffocating style of defense that few could handle, turning turnovers into baskets and getting the last laugh.

“They played well. They pressured us a little better than they did in districts,” Webb said. “We were just talking about if we played them 10 times, we’d probably split with them. (Friday) it was whoever was hitting their shots and whoever was on their game would win, and (Friday) was their day.

“They played better than us in the second half,” Webb said. “They came out with more intensity and they were more aggressive than us, I think. They played the game they wanted to play. They forced us into things we didn’t want to do. That was the bottom line, basically.”

Webb, who had scored 51 points in the tourney’s first two games, was held to just 15 in the final two. He scored just six in his final game, a 64-43 loss to Mountlake Terrace.

But it was the Wolves’ performance in the last game that had Callaghan more frustrated than anything.

“You know, there are no excuses,” Callaghan said. “You have to show up and play as hard as you can. I’m not sure we played as hard as we could (Saturday).

“After 28 games...this was it,” Callaghan said. “There’s no practice on Monday, this is it. We talked about leaving it all out there, and I’m not sure we did. It’s disappointing. I’m more disappointed in that than the loss (Friday), and that was pretty disappointing.”

Mountlake Terrace roared out to a 13-0 start and South never challenged in its final game.

“We were drained, physically and emotionally,” Callaghan said. “They battled back but we just didn’t have enough. When you don’t have enough gas in the tank, you don’t go anywhere. That’s just the way it is.”

But even with the disappointment of losing their final two games and finishing 2-3 after a 24-0 start, Callaghan said he’ll look back fondly on the year. Someday.

“It’s hard to really enjoy any of that right now,” Callaghan said. “Maybe in a week or two, yeah, we’ll really enjoy it. Right now we’re just so disappointed in our performance (Saturday) I think that kind of overwhelms what a great year we really did have.

“I can’t say enough about our seniors,” Callaghan said. “It wasn’t our day (Saturday) and I wish it would have turned out a little different and they could have gone out on a little bit happier note for those four guys but they have nothing to be ashamed of. They had a great season.”

Class 4A state semifinal

Kentwood 42, South Kitsap 36

South Kitsap – Conner Gehring 0-4, 1-2 — 1; Tippy Burk 2-10, 0-0 — 5; Jamil Moore 7-14, 0-1 — 15; Derrick Webb 2-6, 4-4 — 9; Josh Monagle 1-4, 2-4 — 4; LP Neloms 1-2, 0-0 — 2; Ryan Sweet 0-1, 0-0 — 0; Connor McPherson 0-0, 0-0 — 0. Team totals: 13-41, 7-11 — 36.

Kentwood – Blake Solomon 3-9, 1-2 — 8; Jared Leopold 0-0, 0-1 — 0; Aaron Boyce 8-13, 0-1 — 16; Toussaint Tyler 4-5, 2-4 — 10; Matt Mgebroff 2-3, 0-0 — 4; Curron Singleton 0-3, 0-0 — 0; Austin Boyce 2-3, 0-0 — 4. Team totals: 19-36, 3-7 — 42.

Three-pointers: Kentwood 1-8 (Solomon 1-5), (Aboyce 0-1), (Singleton 0-1), (ABoyce 0-1). South 3-14 (Neloms 0-1), (Gehring 0-2), (Burk 1-4), (Webb 1-3).  Rebounds Kentwood 26 (AaBoyce 10), Kitsap 22 (Moore 5). Assists: Kentwood 7 (AaBoyce 3), South 4. Steals: Kentwood 2, South 2.

Class 4A third-sixth place

Mountlake Terrace 64, South Kitsap 43

South Kitsap - Conner Gehring 2-5, 0-0 — 5; Tippy Burk 1-3, 1-1 — 3; Jamil Moore 1-7, 2-3 — 4; Derrick Webb 1-8, 4-6 — 6; Josh Monagle 2-4, 0-0 — 4; LP Neloms 3-8, 2-2 — 8; Ty Curry 1-1, 0-0 — 3; Evan Atwater 0-2. 0-0 — 0; Ryan Sweet 3-4, 2-2 — 8; Connon McPherson 1-2, 0-0 — 2; Joe Pisa 0-0, 0-0 — 0. Team totals: 15-44, 11-14 — 43.

Mountlake Terrace – Christiaan Hammond 6-7, 0-0 — 15; Adrian Blake 6-9, 2-4 — 15; Michael Boxley 6-10, 0-0 — 13; Leigh Swanson 2-6, 3-4 — 7; Luke Hammond 1-5, 2-2 — 4; Brad Balch 2-4, 0-0 — 4; Andrew Mundt 1-1, 2-2 — 4. Team totals: 24-43, 11-15 — 64.

Three-pointers: MT 5-10 (CHammond 3-3), (LHammond 0-2), (Blake 1-3), (Boxley 1-2), South (Neloms 0-1), (Gehring 1-1), (Curry 1-1), (Moore 0-2), (Atwater 0-2), (Webb 0-2). . Rebounds: MT 28 (Boxley 7), SK 22 (Moore 6). Assists: MT 15 (Boxley 6). SK 4 (Neloms 2). Steals: MT 6 (Blake 2), South 7 (Neloms 3). Turnovers: MT 13, South 14.


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