Sports

Buzzer-beater sends South to first loss of the season

In the span of just over four minutes, it seemed like the incarnation of Brian Cox returned in the form of South Kitsap senior post Ryan Sweet.

Sweet tore a page out of the 2003 grad’s book of heroics only to watch in horror Gig Harbor’s miraculous come-from-behind 54-53 victory Wednesday night at the SK gym.

Tides’ 6-8 center Ryan Christensen, who nailed a 3-pointer earlier in the game, swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the upset victory.

No. 2 SK (7-1 overall going into last night’s game at Central Kitsap), tasted its first loss at home since it lost its first round district game to Kent-Meridian in 2003.

A stunned South Kitsap crowd stood motionless as Gig Harbor players and coaches piled on top of Christensen in the middle of the court.

It was only minutes earlier Sweet thwarted Gig Harbor’s momentum when he hit a baby hook at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.

SK put itself in prime position to take a four-point lead with 43 seconds left in overtime, but fatigued junior point guard Tippy Burke couldn’t hit either of his free throw attempts.

Mathias Ward nailed two free throws to tie the game with 21 seconds left.

But fate seemed to be in Sweet’s hands as he scored a lay-up for a 53-51 advantage with eight seconds to go.

After a Tides timeout, speedy guard Tony Henderson pushed the ball up the court to Geoff McIntosh, who fed an open Christensen at the top of the arch for the game-winner.

SK looked to have the game in hand in the third quarter, up 35-19, but the trio of McIntosh, Christensen, and Clarence Trent combined on a 17-2 run to pull within one point to start the fourth quarter.

SK coach John Callaghan said his team played with a lack of discipline and a failure on the player’s part to do their job.

“We were up by fifteen, sixteen points and we couldn’t take care of the ball,” Callaghan said. “Then we were putting up shots like we were down twenty (points).”

Having not faced a big foe in this early season, Callaghan said this game was a great opportunity to see where the team stood.

Back to the drawing board was his first thought.

“There’s a fine line between cocky and confident,” he said. “We’re borderline. This (game) will make us go back and work on the things we need to work on. We need to learn from this and move on.”

While Callaghan and his Wolves lick their wounds in anticipation of next month’s rematch at Gig Harbor, Tides coach Lyle McIntosh was just happy to get out of SK with a win.

“We are very very fortunate to escape here with a win,” McIntosh said.

The loss spoiled Sweet’s return to the court after suffering a severely sprained ankle in early December.

As much as he was excited to contribute to his team that night, his focus was on having the team regroup and reload for the rest of what is still a long season ahead.

“This drives us to work harder,” Sweet said. “We will be out to get them next time we play them.”

Gig Harbor 54, South Kitsap 53 (OT)

Gig Harbor — Geoff McIntosh 15, Drew Hammond 3, Mathias Ward 9, Ryan Christensen 16, Clarence Trent 8, Alex Langlow, Tony Henderson 3.

South Kitsap — Conner Gehring 10, Tippy Burk 9, L.P. Neloms 7, Josh Monagle 7, Joe Pisa 6, Evan Atwater 4, Ryan Sweet 4, Tysaiah Curry 6, Kris Carlson, Dan Nelson.

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