Sequim boys escape from Knights

"BREMERTON - It gave new meaning to the phrase near miss.Every time a member of the Bremerton High School boys basketball team would get near the basket last Friday night against Sequim, he would miss.The Knights probably played well enough to beat the visiting Olympic League leaders. More rebounds. Fewer turnovers. All the hustle a coach could ask for.But their own shooting shot them down.This should've been our game, moaned a rumpled Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg. We got the ball where we wanted it all night, we hit the boards hard, we out-hustled them.Aside from missing free throws and inside shots, I thought we outplayed them, said Lindberg.When you miss the kind of opportunities the Knights missed Friday, though, winning becomes a long shot. Or in this case, maybe, it's more appropriate to say a short shot.That's the kind that gave the Knights a murderously hard time against Sequim. After working hard to create a passel of shots inside the paint - 6 feet and closer - Bremerton missed, and missed, and missed. The Knights hit the back rim, the front rim, the sides and the air. The only part of the atmosphere they didn't hit with regularity was the part that counted for two points.Things weren't much better from the free throw line, where Bremerton was 8 for 17.We missed 30 shots (in the paint), exactly, Lindberg hissed. Layups, putbacks, offensive rebounds, anything in close. Free throws, we were under 50 percent.The Knights literally shot themselves out of the game against a Sequim team too talented to need that kind of help. With the magical James McCutcheon supplying a game-high 27 points, the Class 3A Wolves escaped Bremerton's gym with the win they needed to maintain their place atop the overall league standings.But the visitors had trouble, even against a Bremerton team that was struggling so mightily against itself. After punching its way out to a 51-35 advantage, Sequim lost its poise - and all of its lead - in a span of a little more than eight minutes of the second half, when the Knights temporarily found their shooting touch and eventually pulled into a 58-all tie with 3 minutes, 43 seconds to play.A 12-3 run, capped by Joe Bollinger's pull-up 6-footer in the lane, knotted the score. That basket was notable for two other reasons - it was Bollinger's only field goal, and Bremerton's final significant points, of the game. McCutcheon threw down a baseline jumper to give the Wolves the lead back for good, and they outscored Bremerton 11-0 until Kellen Alley's putback with one second showing pulled them to the final nine-point deficit.We had to start fouling and put them on the free throw line, Lindberg said of his team's sudden re-descent into the scoring doldrums in those final few minutes. And Sequim's not a team you want to put on the free throw line.The Wolves were happy to take advantage, nonetheless. They hit 7 of their 8 chances down the stretch while Bremerton clammed up at the other end, and finished an immaculate 22 for 25 from the stripe for the game.They're not going to miss when they get up there, Lindberg said, poring over the Wolves' free throw numbers with an expression of envy.Lindberg said the Knights changed absolutely nothing to ignite their second-half comeback.The only reason we got back in the game was that we capitalized on our easy baskets, he said. We just couldn't keep it up.And good teams find ways to win. Sequim's a good team, and they took advantage of the fact that we couldn't make our 5-footers, he said, smiling self-consciously.Alley finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds and Sam Flemister added 17 points and 14 boards for Bremerton. Michael Stitt contributed 14 points, including the Knights' only two 3-point baskets.Bremerton, in fact, had four more field goals (25-21) than the Wolves. But it was the baskets they missed, not the ones they made, that allowed Sequim to get away.Our strategy, our execution, and our hustle all were very good, Lindberg said. Our losing had nothing to do with the Xs and Os - it came down to making the free throws and the chippies, and that's what we didn't do. "

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