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Chemistry-challenged South Kitsap closes season out of playoffs | Boys Basketball
The assessment starts by dissecting the anatomy of the roster.
When South Kitsap’s boys basketball team placed second in the 2004 Class 4A tournament, senior posts Jake Beitinger and Adam Bennett were third-year varsity players, while junior guard Jamil Moore was in his second season at the school’s highest level.
Contrast that to this season’s team. Only Leon La Deaux and Joey Osinski played on varsity as a sophomores. In 2007-08, two other seniors who figured in the team’s rotation — wing Chris Blue and guard Josh Dubble — played on the Wolves’ C-team. Senior guard Cedric Brown was at Capital High in Olympia.
South coach John Callaghan said the result of the lack of continuity led to chemistry issues as his team did not qualify for the Narrows League Tournament for the first time since 1998-99. South finished 11-10 during that season, Callaghan’s first, and that was the program’s worst record during his tenure — along with an identical record in 2007-08 — before this season.
The Wolves lost their season finale 50-45 against Lincoln on Friday to finish 7-13 overall and 4-11 in league play.
“I think overall it was fairly frustrating for everyone,” Callaghan said. “It didn’t seem like we ever had anyone on the same page.”
In addition to a lack of playing time together, some players did not coexist well. Reports vary on the circumstance, but two teammates were recently involved in an altercation at the school.
“Our team chemistry was not good,” said Callaghan, adding that it was an issue for the first time in his 12 years at South. “I think it was evident not to just the people in the locker room, but those who came to games.”
He said that he tries to incorporate off-the-court activities for his players, but it might be more of an emphasis in the future.
Callaghan also wonders if the amount of football players on his team contributed to the team’s slow start. Riki Blas, Isaiah Davis, La Deaux and Greg Pickard all played for the Wolves’ football team that finished with a 10-1 record and advanced to state. The latter three also started in basketball season.
“This really is the first time where we’ve had this many fall-sport kids on the basketball team,” Callaghan said. “I think a lot of those guys were tired.”
South started 3-0, but those wins came against White River, Tyee and Shelton. Entering this week, those teams had a combined 8-48 record. The Wolves proceeded to lose their next five games.
“We dug ourselves a hole too early,” Callaghan said.
South graduated its top two scorers — Mike Longmire (13.8 points per game) and Tionne Curry (12.2) — from last season. Its third leading scorer, Tre Haslom (7.8) transferred to Lakewood High in Snohomish County after his sophomore season.
“I think Tre definitely would’ve played a big role for us,” Callaghan said. “A big downside for our team was our perimeter shooting and I think he would’ve helped us there.”
Through those adversarial times, Callaghan saw one element that remained consistent.
“I don’t think there ever was a lack of effort,” he said. “Our guys played hard even when we weren’t playing very good basketball.”
The Wolves lost seven of their last eight games, but Callaghan felt his team showed improvement toward the end. Five of those losses were by eight points or less and the worst was a 60-43 loss Jan. 30 against Wilson. The Rams also gave South its lopsided loss of the season, 63-33, on Dec. 11.
“I still feel we were as good as anyone in our league,” Callaghan said. “The only game where we got it handed to us was Wilson. Every other league game, we had opportunities.”
Callaghan, who has a 208-91 record at South, said he is reviewing the season to see if changes need to occur in the program, which has not reached state since 2006. He does not anticipate anything significant, though.
Noting that Lincoln finished 9-11 overall in 2003-04 — just two seasons after winning its second consecutive 4A state championship — Callaghan said that sometimes struggles “just happen.”
And he remains bullish on the program’s future.
It begins in the backcourt, where Davis and sophomore Nars Martinez return for another season. He also believes junior wing Kerry Burden, who played for the first time in two seasons after being mired with academic issues, can develop similarly to Longmire. Before leading the team in scoring as a senior, Longmire averaged just 2.5 points per game as a junior.
“I think Kerry definitely can be that kind of a guy,” Callaghan said. “His physical ability is amazing. If he works at it in the offseason, I think he will be a force for us.”
Callaghan says he does not have many tall players emerging in the program. With 6-foot-6 Joey Osinski set to graduate, the next tallest projected returners — Blas and Colin Gallagher — are three inches shorter than him.
But Callaghan likes the athleticism of those players in addition to several other returners and possible newcomers. He envisions starting as many as four guards next season.
And hopefully winning again.
“I think the sophomore class coming in is a good one for us,” Callaghan said. “With those guys returning and some of the guys coming up, I’m optimistic.”
Lincoln 50, at South Kitsap 45
Lincoln 13 8 14 15 — 50
South Kitsap 10 15 9 11 — 45
Lincoln: Clay 2, Anderson 2, Horsley 4, Russell 13, Wright 2, Coley 4, Dansby 4, Trent 4, Killian-Horace 2, Lexing 4.
South Kitsap: Josh Dubble 2, Greg Pickard 4, Isaiah Davis 7, Kerry Burden 4, Nars Martinez 6, Cedric Brown 3, Chris Blue 0, Joey Osinski 0, Leon La Deaux 15, Riki Blas 4.
South Kitsap 55, at Gig Harbor 40
South Kitsap 10 10 15 20 — 55
Gig Harbor 9 11 4 16 — 40
South Kitsap: Josh Dubble 0, Greg Pickard 8, Isaiah Davis 4, Kerry Burden 8, Nars Martinez 7, Cedric Brown 0, Joey Osinski 5, Leon La Deaux 21, Michael Powell 0, Riki Blas 2.
Gig Harbor: Medak 9, Castle 0, Rothenberg 3, Gagliardi 2, Bigelow 2, Steingraber 1, Repar 2, Williams 0, King 0, Guinn 0, Seferian-Jenkins 21.
Foss 59, at South Kitsap 58
Foss 8 13 17 21 — 59
South Kitsap 13 9 19 17 — 58
Foss: Davis 3, Richmond 4, Lentz 15, Cruell 9, El-Majzoub 9, Little 5, Byrd 12, Clark 2, Smith 0, Chambers 0.
South Kitsap: Josh Dubble , Greg Pickard 12, Isaiah Davis 17, Kerry Burden 6, Nars Martinez 6, Joey Osinski 6, Leon La Deaux 8, Michael Powell 0, Riki Blas 3.
Wilson 60, at South Kitsap 43
Wilson 13 14 18 15 — 60
South Kitsap 6 11 12 14 — 43
Wilson: Jackson 2, Smith 11, Waters 0, Davis 0, Hope 13, Stevens 22, Schultz 0, Lawton 0, Dam 2, Cooper 4, Peart 0.
South Kitsap: Josh Dubble 2, Greg Pickard 1, Isaiah Davis 4, Kerry Burden 2, Nars Martinez 10, Cedric Brown 3, Chris Blue 0, Joey Osinski 8, Leon La Deaux 11, Riki Blas 0.