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BOYS BASKETBALL | Puyallup rains 3-pointers on Wolves’ playoff prospects
It was an undesirable math lesson for South Kitsap’s boys basketball team.
That would describe Puyallup’s first-half 3-point shooting that the Vikings often made look as easy as a layup during their 75-62 win Thursday at South Kitsap in the first round of the Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament.
“Obviously, we’re not consistently shooting 12 of 17,” said Puyallup coach Scott Campbell, referring to his team’s 3-point conversion ratio during the first half en route to a 52-34 lead at the intermission. “It’s contagious. When one guy hits one, the next guy hits one.”
The result means the arithmetic becomes much more difficult for the Wolves (15-7) when it comes to their quest to reach regionals for a second consecutive year. South, which plays at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against Evergreen (Vancouver) at Mount Tahoma, now must survive two straight loser-out games. And even that does not guarantee the Wolves’ season will continue.
But South coach John Callaghan said he is not concerned. He noted his team won five consecutive games after its 67-63 loss Jan. 29 against Gig Harbor.
“It’s a tough road,” he said. “But we’re still playing. We’ve gone down this road before. It’s not impossible.”
The Wolves took a 5-0 lead to start the game on consecutive field goals by sophomore guard Eric Wattree, who scored 10 points. But that lead vanished as Puyallup (14-8), which plays Kentridge at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Auburn, began hitting 3-pointers after missing its first two shots from beyond the arc. When junior guard Dane Iverson made a 3-pointer with 2 seconds remaining in the first period, it was the seventh consecutive shot the Vikings converted from that range. It also extended their lead to 27-21.
Campbell said 3-pointers are a staple of his system. Puyallup, which does not feature a player taller than 6-foot-4, put up more shots from beyond the arc than inside it during the season. The Vikings also are unique in that they do not have one or two featured shooters. Four of their players made 3-pointers and three scored in double figures led by sophomore guard Jaden Vollmen. He finished with 18 points.
“They were really trying to take Nick (Gutierrez) away and play zone on the rest of the guys,” Campbell said.
That left Puyallup to shoot 3-pointers, which Campbell was more than satisfied to do.
“The game kind of looked like one of our practices,” he said. “That’s kind of what we do is press and run. A lot of conditioning and a lot of 3s.”
Despite that, South reduced its deficit in a methodical manner during the second half. When senior wing Caulin Bakalarski, who scored a game-high 21 points, hit a 3-pointer with 6:21 minutes remaining in the game it cut the Vikings’ lead to 61-55.
“We just couldn’t hit that big shot to get us right there,” Callaghan said. “But we had our opportunities. To our guys’ credit, they hung in there and battled.”
The Vikings only made one 3-pointer during the second half, but were able to match the Wolves’ offensive production down the stretch as Gutierrez broke down the defense and drove for layups. All eight of his points came in the second half.
“There were times where we were standing and staring at the ball,” Callaghan said. “They were the aggressors. They’re going to shoot the 3 and they’re going to drive it to the rack.
“You’ve got to hand it to them.”
Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District playoffs
Puyallup 75, at South Kitsap 62
Puyallup 27 25 7 16 - 75
South Kitsap 21 13 14 14 - 62
Puyallup-Nick Gutierrez 8, Brady Winter, D.J. Winter 8, Tony Gutierrez 15, Jaden Vollmen 18, Ross Dombrowski 2, Dane Iverson 13, Tyler Torgerson 2, Devon Nuff 9.
South Kitsap-Ryley Callaghan 12, Caulin Bakalarski 21, Logan Knowles 6, MacIntyre McCarty, Travis Delgado, Xavier Wells 2, Isaiah Lewis 11.