CK boys cry foul after loss to Trojans

"Tim Dower kept poring over the scorebook, long after the gym lights had gone out at Central Kitsap High School Thursday night.But he kept seeing the same darn thing.I don't understand how we could go a whole game, with them playing the kind of defense they play, and get to the free throw line three times, said Dower, the Cougar boys' head coach. I'm really upset.CK was 2 for 3 from the stripe during its Battle-of-Bucklin-Hill Olympic League matchup with visiting Olympic Thursday night. At the same time, the Trojans got to the line 26 times, making 19. They won despite converting four fewer field goals than the Cougars.How does that happen? Dower asked.Thursday, the Trojans made it happen, as improbable as Dower made it seem, with 22 points from senior guard Casey Manchester, with strong execution after a rocky start, with poise in front of a large, raucous crowd ... and by hitting the free throws when they most desperately needed to.That was huge, Oly coach Robert Polk said of the 73 percent free throw shooting performance by his team, which has struggled from the line this season. We didn't have a good showing in the first half (3 for 6), but when it counted, the kids stepped it up.The Cougars, already hampered by injuries and other attrition, were further nicked Thursday by the absence of senior guard Dylan Robbins, who sat out a one-game disciplinary suspension. Robbins, who hit six 3-pointers and scored 22 points in Tuesday's loss to Bremerton, might've made a huge difference, both with his streak-shooting ways and with his varsity experience.As it turned out, a young, fresh-faced Cougar squad - a good chunk of which started the season on the junior varsity - lost what ultimately was a battle of nerves.We made very young mistakes tonight, Dower shrugged. A lot of times, four of the five players out there were underclassmen, and it showed some times.It was Oly, though, that suffered the first knockdown of that battle, letting an inspired CK team run off 12 unanswered points to start the game. Matt Hegewald had eight of those points, including a pair of threes.The Trojans righted themselves with defense, clapping on full-court pressure and playing a ball-hawking man-to-man that brought the Cougars to a halt. CK scored just five points in the second quarter, hurting itself with a series of unforced turnovers that allowed Manchester and Geoff Kelstrup to shoot Oly into a 20-19 halftime advantage - a lead to which they doggedly held the rest of the way as it swell and ebbed in the face of Cougar charges.Olympic scored 14 of its 19 fourth-quarter points from the free throw line, stepping into the pressure-cooker to hit 14 of 16 in the period.CK, by contrast, shot its first free throw of the game with 3 minutes, 7 seconds remaining. It should be noted that Casey Sullivan's try was the front end of a 1-and-1, following Troy's seventh team foul. The Trojans had gotten into the bonus themselves only a minute earlier.We got up 12-0 and our game plan was to pound it in to the post, Dower said of the early going, and then we didn't get one call in the post the whole game. Not one.We felt like we would have a big mismatch inside. That's what we were going for, he continued. I think we did our fair share to get to the line more than three times.Polk said his team's recovery from the Cougars' opening barrage was as big in the final outcome as its late-game free throw marksmanship.We kept our composure, he said, and I'm real proud of that. We started moving the ball, and we played better defense. We got some quick scores off turnovers, and that's where we really got our energy.Manchester came up huge at both ends of the floor.I thought we did a great job on Kelstrup, but Casey shot the lights out, Dower said. Plus, he handles the ball extremely well and helped them beat our pressure. "

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