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Big third quarter leads to Callaghan's 200th career win
When he stepped into the locker room, chocolate cake and root beer were waiting.
South Kitsap boys basketball coach John Callaghan probably would have preferred to celebrate another Narrows League championship, but this one was about a career achievement.
The Wolves capped the regular season Monday night with a 64-36 win against Shelton in Bridge Division play that gave Callaghan a 200-75 record in 11 seasons.
Callaghan said he was surprised the number was that high, joking that he “hopes the math is right.”
It is. And half of those wins came in four seasons when the Wolves placed between second and sixth place in the Class 4A state tournament from 2003-06.
“No one does it alone,” Callaghan said. “I’ve had great assistants who have totally supported me. Obviously, we’ve had some talented players that make you look pretty good as a coach. I’ve been in the right place at the right time.”
South (13-7 overall, 9-6 league), which plays at 8 p.m. Thursday against Bellarmine Prep in the league tournament at Stadium, didn’t look anything like Callaghan’s best teams early in Monday's game. The Highclimbers (2-18, 1-14) led 19-16 after Jacob Dunnington hit a half-court shot just before time expired in the first quarter.
“We were off of him,” Callaghan said. “He got good looks and he can shoot it. That’s what’s so dangerous about them — they can shoot the three.”
The Wolves didn’t take the lead for good until Isaiah Davis stole the ball and cut toward the basket for an uncontested layup that gave them a 20-19 lead a little more than a minute into the second quarter. South took a 29-25 edge into halftime when Dunnington, who scored all 11 of his points in the opening 16 minutes, hit a shot with 3.3 seconds left.
But South focused on Dunnington in the second half and the Highclimbers couldn’t find any offense. They converted just 5 of 27 field-goal attempts after halftime and scored 11 points.
Behind six points from Tionne Curry, who scored a game-high 19, and Mike Longmire in the third quarter, South went on a 25-6 run during the period that essentially put the game out of reach. Even though the Wolves converted just 42 percent of their field goals, they were 14 of 26 in the second half.
“We can overplay any team when we play together,” Curry said.
Callaghan said one significant difference was the teamwork his team displayed after an individualistic first half. South missed all nine 3-pointers in the opening half, and Callaghan said he reminded his team that it won’t win in the playoffs by purely relying on jump shots. The Wolves attempted four 3-pointers in the second half, converting three.
“We were a little more patient,” Callaghan said. “We were still getting good looks and we were knocking them down.”
None of South’s starters played the fourth period as the Wolves entered the quarter with a 54-31 lead. Callaghan was able to play everyone on the bench and came away excited about the team’s future.
“I look at Riki Blas; he’s going to be a player for us,” he said, referring to the 6-foot-3 sophomore post. “He’s basketball smart, is strong as a bull and has a nice touch.”
But it’s about the present now, and the Wolves are eager to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2006. There are no players left on the roster from that team, a fact that Curry knows well. His older brothers, Trivone and Tysaiah, both advanced to state under Callaghan.
“It’s playoff time,” Curry said. “I think we’re ready for it.”
At South Kitsap 64, Shelton 36
Shelton 19 6 6 5 — 36
South Kitsap 16 13 25 10 — 64
Shelton-Korey Sitko 2, Tre’ Fisher 2, Star Ly 3, Levi Sutton 6, Tyler Dunnington 6, Jacob Dunnington 11, Alex Blakely 6, Peter Francis 0, Nathan Vrabel 0, Wesley Patterson 0.
South Kitsap-Greg Pickard 0, Isaiah Davis 4, Ivan Rybachuk 0, Tionne Curry 19, Austin Siegel 6, Tre Haslom 7, Joey Osinski 2, Leon La Deaux 2, Brannon Bell 0, Mike Longmire 14, Riki Blas 4, Ricky King 6.