BOYS BASKETBALL | ‘Confident’ Wolves advance to regionals

TACOMA — His primary job is to serve as a distributor.

But South Kitsap junior point guard Travis Delgado did not hesitate when it was his opportunity to take an important shot.

Delgado’s 3-pointer with 3:14 minutes remaining increased South’s lead to four points en route to a 65-57 win Thursday against Curtis in the Class 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament at Mount Tahoma High School. The Wolves (18-7) secured the fifth seed at districts and advance to regionals March 1 for a second consecutive season against a to-be determined opponent.

“That was a big 3,” South coach John Callaghan said. “He grew up tonight.”

Callaghan acknowledged that he sometimes feels trepidation when a reserve takes an important shot. Delgado felt no reservations about the 3-pointer that gave the Wolves a 58-54 lead, though.

“I was ready,” he said.

Delgado played more minutes than usual as starting point guard Ryley Callaghan, who scored a team-high 21 points, picked up two fouls in the first quarter — one on a technical foul. Senior wing Logan Knowles also was assessed four fouls in the first half, while sophomore post Isaiah Lewis had three at the intermission.

The volume of fouls called surprised sophomore guard Eric Wattree, who scored 14 points. The elder Callaghan, who has moved to a seven-player rotation since senior post Forest Bingham suffered a season-ending left ankle injury Feb. 6 at Stadium, said a tightly officiated game does not benefit his team.

“For us it’s bad news because we’re not really deep,” he said.

It proved beneficial to the Wolves in the waning minutes, though. That is because junior guard Jason Williams, who led the Vikings with 21 points, fouled out as he attempted to corral an offensive rebound with 2:01 left. Lewis converted both free throws to extend South’s lead to 60-56.

“When [Williams] went out, that was a big deal for us,” Callaghan said.

On the ensuing possession, Wattree blocked junior guard Garrett Matz’s shot and then scored on a layup to increase the Wolves’ lead to 62-56 with 1:08 left.

The fourth quarter featured four lead changes — a prospect that was difficult to envision when South entered the second period with a 24-9 lead.

Callaghan said the Wolves implemented a 1-3-1 zone defense designed to limit sophomore forward Aushanti Potts-Woods, who finished with five points.

“We wanted to make them shoot 3s,” Wattree said.

That worked until Williams was able to penetrate the defense to draw fouls. Curtis (20-5) converted 13 of 17 free throws during the first half to cut its deficit to 37-27 at halftime.

Delgado said the Vikings’ ability to get back into the game was not just about their offense, though.

“It was definitely one of the best defenses that we’ve played,” he said, adding that contributed to his team’s nine turnovers in the second half. “They were really, really quick out there. They were all over the place.”

That is until Delgado took advantage of his open shot to help South win for the eighth time in its last nine games. The Wolves’ only loss in February was a 75-62 setback Feb. 13 against Puyallup in the opening game of districts.

South now is one win away from reaching state for the first time since 2006.

“They’re just playing with confidence,” Callaghan said. “Just supreme confidence right now.”

West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament

At Mount Tahoma High School

South Kitsap 65, Curtis 57

Curtis               9          18        16        14        -           57

South Kitsap    24        13        12        16        -           65

Curtis-Darrin Gethers 2, Anthony Ryan, Aushanti Potts-Woods 5, Garrett Matz 2, Tory Causey 14, Marcus Stephens 5, Gage Ferguson 6, Jason Williams 21, Trevor Morrow 2.

South Kitsap-Ryley Callaghan 21, Caulin Bakalarski 16, Logan Knowles, Travis Delgado 6, Eric Wattree 14, Xavier Wells, Isaiah Lewis 8.

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