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South Kitsap boys break losing drought
Offensive efficiency is not just about making shots.
South Kitsap struggled from the field again, but finished with a much different result in the second day of the Les Schwab Christmas Classic on Tuesday at Bellevue College.
Behind an aggressive, team-wide effort to attack the lane, the Wolves earned a 73-69 win against Kentlake to end a five-game losing streak.
Kentlake (3-5) made a run in the final minute of the game when sophomore guard Austin Pernell hit three 3-pointers to cut the Wolves' lead to 72-69 with 18 seconds left. But sophomore guard Nars Martinez, who scored 20 points, converted 1 of 2 free throws on the ensuing possession to prevent any threat of overtime.
South (4-5) trailed most of the first half and were down 38-29 when senior guard Eric Smith scored on a runner with 5 minutes, 53 seconds left. That is when the Wolves became aggressive. After shooting just 25 percent from the field in the first half, they converted 68 percent of their shots in the final 16 minutes.
"That's the first time we've played a little bit smart," South coach John Callaghan said. "We were moving it, getting the match up we wanted and dumping it in there."
Greg Pickard gave South its first lead, 40-38, of the second half on an offensive rebound putback with 2:27 left in the third period. The Wolves never trailed again and Martinez appeared to put the game out of reach when Martinez converted a pair of free throws to give them a 70-58 lead with 1:01 left in the contest.
"As long as we keep playing aggressively, we'll be fine," said Pickard, who had 14 points and nine rebounds. "When we're attacking, that's when we're more successful."
But it rarely has been that easy for South, which played for fifth place in the tournament Wednesday afternoon. In addition to Pernell, who had 15 points, the Wolves struggled to contain Falcons senior forward Mike Salazar. He finished with a game-high 23 points.
"We bring out the best in other people's shooting," Callaghan said.
He thinks some of the defensive issues stem from a lack of depth. He only used six players for 15 minutes or more. Kentlake shot 40.4 percent from the field, but was 50 percent in the second half.
"It seemed like our legs were a little heavy," he said.
Callaghan said he felt his team made "a step in the right direction," but added that his team needs to make plenty of improvements. For a second consecutive game, the Wolves missed more than a half-dozen layups.
"I don't know how many layups we missed," Callaghan said. "We've got guys who aren't using the backboard."
Pickard is happy to finally end South's worst losing streak in more than a decade. The Wolves' last win was 48-43 on Dec. 4 against Shelton.
"It's been tough," he said. "This one feels good."
Les Schwab Christmas Classic at Bellevue College
South Kitsap 73, Kentlake 69
South Kitsap 17 11 18 27 — 73
Kentlake 20 12 13 24 — 69
South Kitsap: Josh Dubble 3, Greg Pickard 14, Isaiah Davis 6, Kerry Burden 9, Nars Martinez 20, Cedric Brown 2, Chris Blue 0, Brannon Bell 0, Joey Osinski 6, Leon La Deaux 13.
Kentlake: Jaron Heck 10, Nick Lodato 0, Daniel Landram 9, Eric Smith 5, Blake Johnson 2, Austin Pernell 15, Mike Salazar 23, Alex Straus 0, Brady Johnson 5.