Wolves dump unbeaten Port Angeles, 74-54

While the comfort level may get lost amid the points and rebounds, it’s pretty obvious the secret to South Kitsap’s success lies in the play of Josh Monagle.

At least so far.

Monagle, a senior post, scored a season-high 24 points and ripped down a game-high 15 rebounds on Friday night to lead the SK boys' basketball team to a 74-54 win over Port Angeles in the Wolves’ home-opener.

The win sends South, ranked second in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Class 4A poll and third in the Seattle Times, into the Christmas break undefeated at 4-0 overall and 2-0 in Narrows League Bridge Division play.

The Roughriders dropped to 5-1 and 1-1.

“Last year was like getting to know the program,” said Monagle, who transferred in last year from Alaska. “This year, I feel way more comfortable. The work we did in the off-season, getting more familiar with the team, it’s all paying off.”

Paying off in dividends for the 6-5 man in the middle. Over the past year he has gotten a bit taller, lost some weight and, most importantly, grown within coach John Callaghan’s system.

“That was the big thing over the summer – I lost weight and got a little quicker,” Monagle said. “Everything is working together. I just wanted to come out and have a great senior season this year, so I was really dedicated to it over the summer.”

And it’s shown over the first few games. Monagle is leading the team in both scoring and rebounds through the first four games and is playing with much more confidence than he did last year.

Especially underneath the basketball, where he totally dominated Friday night with put-back after put-back and rebound after rebound.

“I love doing the dirty work, getting the rebounds and putting them back in,” Monagle said. “Getting in there and banging away, that’s me.”

“He has that ability,” Callaghan said. “He’s tough around the hoop. We needed an inside presence and he’s definitely giving us that right now.”

That presence was key against a Roughrider team that not only came out running and gunning but took a quick lead just a few minutes into Friday’s game.

But as has been the case so far this year, South battled back using its pressure defense.

“The last few games we’ve gotten off to a slow start,” senior wing Conner Gehring said. “But it seems like the pressure gets to them, it weighs on them. So eventually, we make our run.

“We knew they were a tough team, they came in undefeated,” Gehring said. “So we knew we couldn’t take them lightly. We knew we had to come out strong.”

Monagle provided consistent scoring as well as key rebounds throughout the game. His eight first-quarter points helped South overcome a quick 8-0 deficit, the only one the team would face all night.

“They’re a good team,” Callaghan said of PA. “We were fortunate to have one or two good runs, and that was pretty much it.”

South led 18-15 after the first period and extended that to 38-26 by halftime. With a 55-38 lead after three quarters, the Wolves were off and running.

While Monagle led all scorers with his 24 points, Gehring chipped in with 13 points and six rebounds while Tysaiah Curry came off the bench to net 11 points.

Stefan Walker paced the Roughriders with 14 points while Eric Lane scored 12.

Despite the easy win and nice karma heading into the break, Callaghan said there are plenty of things his team can work on.

“We didn’t do a very good job of taking care of the ball — in the first half, especially,” Callaghan said. “And a lot of those (Port Angles) wasn’t forcing. We were just giving them away. But our pressure was good throughout.”

A pair of games against Canadian teams is next on the schedule but there may be a few eyes looking down the road to Jan. 4 – the night Gig Harbor comes to town. That matchup is by far biggest in this young season, since the winner will have the early jump on the rest of the division.

“We’re moving in the right direction, anyway,” Callaghan said. “Obviously we can get a lot better but we’re moving in the right direction.”

Gehring said he has been keeping up with the Tides, checking out their scores. Ryan Sweet, who should be back from his ankle injury in time to face the Tides, has also been keeping at least one eye on their progress.

The Wolves' junior varsity won its game 45-38 to run its record to 3-1. Travis Gutierrez scored 15 points for South while Sam Higgins added 10.

South Kitsap 74, Port Angeles 54

Score by quarters

Port Angeles 15 11 12 16 - 54

South Kitsap 18 20 17 19 - 74

Port Angeles - Eric Lane 11, 1-2 - 12; Justin Boudreau 4, 0-0 - 4; Cameron Leduke 9, 0-1 - 9; Chris Stone 4, 0-0 - 4; Stefan Walker 10, 4-5 - 14; Kyle Acheson 0, 3-4 - 3; Jared Hansen 2, 0-0 - 2; Seth Kaifasz, 4, 0-1 - 4; Scottie Breibach 0, 2-2 - 2; Mark Pluard 0, 0-0 - 0. Team totals: 44, 10-15 - 54.

South Kitsap - Connor Gehring 11, 2-4 - 13; Tippy Burk 7, 0-0 - 7; LP Neloms 6, 2-2 - 8; Josh Monagle 22, 2-4 - 24; Joe Pisa 0, 2-6 - 2; Evan Atwater 5, 2-2 - 7; Ty Curry 6, 5-9 - 11; Dan Nelson 0, 0-0 - 0; Kris Carlson 2, 0-0 - 2; Jared Privatt 0, 0-0 - 0. Team totals: 59, 15-27 - 74.

Three point field goals: Lane, Gehring, Burk, Atwater.

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