SK team makes good first impression on new coach

Chelnesha Thuring, who finished with four points, was one of eight South Kitsap players to score that many in a 50-30 season-opening win Saturday against Bremerton. - Kenny Gatlin/Staff Photo
Chelnesha Thuring, who finished with four points, was one of eight South Kitsap players to score that many in a 50-30 season-opening win Saturday against Bremerton.
— image credit: Kenny Gatlin/Staff Photo

Forgive Mark Lutzenhiser.

After 10 practices, the first-year South Kitsap girls basketball coach acknowledges he doesn’t have a great feel for the team yet.

But after watching tape of last season’s squad that finished 10-13, Lutzenhiser knows this team’s best opportunity for success will come on the defensive side.

And that perhaps was highlight of the Wolves’ 50-30 nonleague season-opening win Saturday against Bremerton.

Despite shooting 21 of 74 (28.4 percent) from the field, South never trailed.

One notable statistical difference that explains that is turnovers.

The Knights gave away the ball 30 times compared with 10 for South.

Lutzenhiser credited his team for its patient approach against the Knights’ zone defense.

“Ten turnovers is awesome,” he said. “It helps that we have a great ball-handler in Kelsey Callaghan and Amanda (Feeney) did a great job when she came in.”

Callaghan, the daughter of boys basketball coach John Callaghan, had a game-high 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

Last season, the Wolves didn’t even have a player who averaged 5 points per game.

“Being a sophomore, I was kind of nervous when I first stepped onto the floor,” Callaghan said. “Then I realized it was just another game. These girls are awesome to play with.”

The offense struggled not only from the field but at the free-throw line.

South struggled at the line the last two seasons and was just 6 of 16 against Bremerton.

“Personally, I think that indicates what kind of field-goal shooting team we’ll be,” Lutzenhiser said. “We need to improve on that.”

Besides that, Lutzenhiser said his team has done a good job of adapting to a new system after eight years under Mike Allen, who resigned after last season. Lutzenhiser wants to run a motion offense. He favors a pressure, man-to-man defense but said he isn’t afraid to play some zone.

The Knights, who finished 10-10 last season and play in the Class 3A Olympic League, were led by Kelsey Johnson’s eight points. Bremerton converted 5 of 10 shots in the first half, but finished just 9 of 29 (31 percent). South led 32-20 at halftime.

“These kids all played defense really well,” Lutzenhiser said.

Callaghan, one of the team’s newcomers, said she’s excited to see how the team progresses during its nonleague slate. The Wolves’ first league game is at 7 p.m. Friday against Shelton.

“We just need to build chemistry,” she said. “We’re all trying to figure it out with each other. We’re all getting better.”

Lutzenhiser agreed.

“We don’t want to be playing our best basketball right now,” he said. “We want to play our best basketball at the end of the season.”

At South Kitsap 50,

Bremerton 30

Bremerton 10 10 4 6 — 30

South Kitsap 19 13 9 9 — 50

Bremerton — Kelsey Johnson 8, Samantha Villalobos 3, Sarah Streutker 5, Jalen Carpenter 0, Kristy Wood 2, Keely Fein 0, Angelique White 6, Brianna Hall 2, Kourtney Carpenter 4.

South Kitsap — Kelsey Callaghan 12, Crystal Polen 0, Chelnesha Thuring 4, Stephanie Osterdahl 6, Amanda Feeney 3, Ashley Frank 6, Ashlee Stoner 5, Tori Fairweather 4, Danielle Stewart 0, Angel Sheldon 6, Molly Werder 4.

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