Wolves bracing for stretch run

The South Kitsap boy’s basketball team has been receiving a steady flow of messages over the last 10 days – some voluntary and some not.

But the one that coach John Callaghan gave his players moments before Wednesday’s Narrows League Bridge Division game with North Kitsap was a simple one: Play with a sense of urgency.

The result was a 64-52 win that keeps the Wolves just a game back of league-leading Gig Harbor. South, which played Bremerton late Friday night, now sits at 8-1 overall and 5-1 in league play.

“That’s telling us that it’s coming to an end sooner than we think,” senior post Ryan Sweet said of his coach’s message. “It’s not a good feeling when you know that your high school basketball career is almost over.”

Actually, South will hit the halfway point of its league schedule next week after playing in a pair of games that celebrate Martin Luther King Day over the weekend.

The Wolves face Olympia today at Key Arena before meeting up with Mead on Monday in Yakima. 

But the message from Callaghan on Wednesday night and the one Gig Harbor sent the Wolves last week have both left their mark on a team that fell from second to 10th in the state rankings after the one-point loss to the Tides.

“Gig Harbor got through to us big time,” Sweet said. “It’s the attitude, and I think we’re working a lot harder in practice. We know we have to go give that 110 percent every day.”

Sweet and fellow post Josh Monagle got the brunt of the work against North, taking advantage of a guard-oriented group of Vikings to combine for 31 points and 15 rebounds.

Monagle paced South with a game-high 17 points and eight boards while Sweet chipped in with 14 points and seven rebounds.

“Knowing Josh, he can post up with anyone in the league,” Sweet said. “So we knew coming in that we’d be able to do pretty well, but we didn’t come in thinking we would just totally dominate them. We knew that everyone would have to play well to beat them.”

The Wolves attacked the spread-out North defense early and often, getting plenty of easy layups. But the Vikings, who moved the ball around constantly, worked well at first as they found some open shots and buried a total of eight 3-point field goals.

That strategy kept the Vikings close — they trailed just 19-14 after the first quarter and were down just 10 points at the half. But a 21-7 third-quarter run by the Wolves put the game out of reach.

“To our credit, we were smart enough to take advantage of them,” Callaghan said. “We even made it look pretty easy for while. To our guys’ credit, I thought they played really intelligently, which is what we need to do.”

Despite the slowed pace of the game, South fought the urge to run and stayed in a half-court offense that fed off the play of Monagle and Sweet.

That meant that guards Tippy Burk, L.P. Neloms and Tysaiah Curry didn’t score much — they combined for just 11 points — but they more than made up for it by working the ball down low and playing solid defense.

“Some nights, our advantage will be going inside and other nights, we’ll have the advantage out on the perimeter,” Callaghan said. “And we need to be intelligent enough to know when that night is.

“That’s what I’m most happy about, we played with discipline,” Callaghan said. “And that’s what we need.”

And it’s that kind of discipline that South will have to continue to play with to get through the second half of the Bridge season. The Wolves, who won the Narrows League title last year by running the table in the regular season, face some tough road games down the stretch, including contests at Port Angeles and a rematch at Gig Harbor.

That’s why Callaghan appealed to them in the manner that he did, hoping they would understand the time is now and they must play with urgency.

“That’s what we need to play with,” Callaghan said. “Right now, at this point, we need to play with a sense of urgency every night out. Because it’s winding down, it’s going to be over soon.

“We’re halfway through and the quickest part is coming up,” he said. “It’s going to go quick, so we just need to just focus on each game and play with a sense of urgency and intensity – that’s the bottom line.”

South Kitsap 64, North Kitsap 52

Score by quarters

North Kitsap 14 11 7 20 – 52

South Kitsap 19 16 21 8 – 64

North Kitsap – Steven Kirk 0, 0-0 – 0; Chris Zeringer 14, 0-0 – 14; Kevin Masnayon 2, 1-1 – 3; Jeff Ottele 4, 2-2 – 6; Eric Schippers 8, 2-2 – 10; Dietreich Rios 2, 0-0 – 2; Mychal Harris 9, 3-3 – 12; Marcus Harris 5, 0-0 – 5. Team totals: 44, 8-8 – 52.

South Kitsap – Conner Gehring 6, 0-0 – 6; Tippy Burk 5, 0-0 – 5; LP Neloms 4, 0-0 – 4; Josh Monagle 16, 1-1 – 17; Ryan Sweet 14, 0-0 – 14; Evan Atwater 2, 2-2 – 4; Joe Pisa 8, 0-0 – 8; Tysaiah Curry 2, 0-1 – 2; Dan Nelson 2, 0-0 – 2; Kris Carlson 2, 0-0 – 2; Jared Privatt 0, 0-0 – 0. Team totals: 61, 3-4 – 64.

Three point field goals: Zeringer 4, MyHarris 3, MaHarris, Burk.

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