Cougars off to fast start in new year


Sports editor

If this week serves as any indication, the new year could smile kindly on the Central Kitsap boys basketball program.

Despite opening the new season with three games in four days, the Cougars are 3-0, topping Klahowya in a narrow 68-62 win Monday, running by rival Olympic Wednesday 65-42 before surging ahead of Kentlake in a 82-76 win Thursday.

And while CK coach Tim Fryer is certainly pleased with the hot start, he knows his team needs to keep focused on the season at hand.

“We just need to know we’ve got a long way to go,” Fryer said. “The boys are aware of that goal to get better each time out. I’m hoping they’re all listening to that.”

That lesson was learned right off the bat on Monday, as the 2A Eagles gave the 4A Cougs a run for their money after trailing CK 36-19 at the half.

Klahowya stormed back as CK lacked second-half intensity, Fryer said.

“Klahowya has a great team,” Fryer said. “We jumped on ’em right away and did everything well.”

But in a tale of two halves, CK came out expecting to go into cruise control, while the Andre Moore-led Eagles (Moore finished with 18) outscored CK 43-32 in the second half. 6-foot, 7-inch junior Brandon Durham led CK with 18 while senior Andrew Braun filled in with 10.

“Andre was like a halfback on basketball team. He’s so fast,” Fryer said. “Even though we won the game, we all left here kind of feeling like we lost.”

But that lesson also is better learned sooner than later, Fryer said.

That showed on Wednesday, as Central Kitsap topped rival Olympic.

“It’s always good,” Fryer said of the win in the Battle of Bucklin Hill’s hardwood version. “The kids always love beating Oly. It’s no fun to lose to your crosstown rival.”

But what impressed Fryer most was that his team didn’t let up, taking a 32-18 lead into the half with no letdown in the second.

“The boys played well for the most part,” Fryer said. “I told ’em, I didn’t care if we were ahead by 20 at halftime. The attitude is to keep playing no matter what the score is. We had a couple lulls there but we pulled out of it just fine.”

While Olympic did a good job of containing Durham, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds, CK was able to kick the ball out to its swing men for several outside shots. Cody Thurmond led CK with 16 points while Matt Wain added 12.

“The game plan is to work inside out,” Fryer said. “We’ve got a big stud in there and we have some good guys around him.”

CK relied on that stud Thursday, as Durham scored 29 points in the win against Kentlake, also nabbing 12 boards in the process.

Braun added 16 while Thurmond scored 13 for CK.

In addition to those players, Fryer said the Cougars will again utilize Phil Thomas’ skills again this season, as Fryer said he may be CK’s best defensive player.

“Phil’s just a well-rounded ballplayer,” Fryer said. “We put a lot on Phil’s shoulders.”

The team also is expecting solid play out of guys like Isaiah Thompson, Andrew Shearer, Kin Paulino and junior post Wyverne Hemphill, who Fryer said should be able to help Durham, or spell Durham, on the inside.

“He’s a player,” Fryer said. “He likes to bump around.”

As far as the team’s Narrows League prospects, Fryer said the usual suspects will again be tough, with teams like South Kitsap, Lincoln and Mount Tahoma, amongst others, fielding tough squads yet again.

“I think we’ll be alright,” he said. “There’s always strong teams. It’s just a balanced league. It should be tough. We can’t wait for that to start. It’ll be a real test for us. “

CK hosts Shelton in its final non-leaguer at 7 p.m. Monday.

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