SK eliminated as comeback falls short

South Kitsap coach Mark Lutzenhiser preferred to focus on the resiliency of his team rather than the result.

As the Wolves’ girls basketball team has done since winning three loser-out games in the West Central District Tournament, they tried to overcome another second-half deficit.

But the latest attempt fell short Thursday as South lost 43-36 against Eastlake in the consolation bracket of the Class 4A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome. South finishes the season with a 15-13 record.

“The kids had a tremendous season,” said Lutzenhiser, who guided South to its first state appearance since 2000. “Nobody gave us an opportunity, including the media.”

Nine of the 12 players on the roster are seniors. Tori Fairweather and Samantha Gulisao, who led the Wolves with 11 points, both played on the 2006-07 team that finished 2-17. South improved to 10-13 the following season and advanced to districts, where it lost both games.

South lost its district opener, 85-45, this season at Auburn Riverside, but defeated Shelton, Puyallup and Jefferson to make it to state.

“It was awesome,” Fairweather said. “It was such a great lifetime experience. This is something I can look back on when I’m 50 or 60 years old. I’m really proud of my team. I couldn’t have picked a better squad to end my senior year with.”

Eastlake (17-8) led 27-17 entering the second half, but South cut the score to 33-32 entering the final period. Kelsey Callaghan split a pair of free throws to trim South’s deficit to 37-34 with 3:33 minutes remaining.

But after both teams traded turnovers, Eastlake’s Jena Boyle hit an off-balanced jumper just inside the three-point arch with a second left on the shot clock. The Sammamish-based school never led by less than five points again.

Lutzenhiser said he didn’t feel his team was aggressive enough in the second half because his post players were in foul trouble. Chelnesha Thuring fouled out, while Stephanie Osterdahl (four fouls), Angel Sheldon (three) and Molly Werder (three) all were close.

“We gave up too many offensive boards,” Lutzenhiser said. “It was hard because a lot of our kids had a lot of fouls. That allows them to maybe hit an off-balanced shot or whatever.”

But perhaps no difference between the teams was more significant than free throws, which determined the final margin. Eastlake converted 18 of 26 from the line, while South was 11 of 23.

“It’s never that we didn’t work hard,” Fairweather said. “We just fell short in a few areas. I don’t think anybody should dwell on that. I think we should focus on achieving our goal and making it to state.”

Class 4A state basketball tournament at Tacoma Dome

Eastlake 43, South Kitsap 36

Eastlake 11 16 6 10 — 43

South Kitsap 9 8 15 4 — 36

Eastlake — Hannah Ostic 2, Jena Boyle 4, Kenzie Carlson 0, Laura Bachman 9, Kelly Montgomery 4, Alyssa Charlston 9, Jess Kelly 0, Annie Borges 2, Ellie Martinez 13.

South Kitsap — Kelsey Callaghan 7, Samantha Gulisao 11, Stephanie Osterdahl 4, Danielle Stewart 3, Ashlee Stoner 0, Chelnesha Thuring 3, Tori Fairweather 2, Angel Sheldon 4, Molly Werder 2.

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