Loss to 'Riders leaves Knights with a Rough road to playoffs

"In its rollercoaster ride of a 2000-01 season, the Bremerton High School boys basketball team keeps hitting the low spots at the worst possible times.And the Knights' coach, Casey Lindberg, fears the ride might be over a lot sooner than he anticipated.We've got two more games, Lindberg said after the Knights fell to Port Angeles in a lackluster home showing Tuesday night. We've got to figure out a way to get our intensity back and win those games if we're going to the playoffs.The Roughriders' 50-40 victory Tuesday leapfrogged them over Bremerton into second place among the Olympic League's quintet of Class 4A members. Only the top two finishers advance to the West Central District tourney which begins Feb. 22.Bremerton missed the playoffs in its first year of 4A competition last year, a disappointment for Lindberg - who took the Knights to fifth place in the state 3A tournament in his first year at the helm, 1998-99.A win over PA Tuesday would've put the Knights on the inside track for the No. 2 WCD berth, with only last night's home game against Olympic and a Feb. 13 home contest against Central Kitsap remaining.Instead, at present, Lindberg's crew is on the outside, looking in.It's hard to understand why we didn't have any intensity for this game, said Lindberg, But that's what happened. We just went through the motions.That allowed the Roughriders, who led nearly buzzer-to-buzzer, to win despite not playing especially well themselves. The visitors scored just nine points in the decisive fourth quarter and shot 3 for 8 from the free throw line.But that was enough against a Bremerton team which went without a field goal the entire quarter and totaled just four points.Some of it is Port Angeles playing good defense - give them credit, Lindberg said. But a lot of it is us not doing what we're supposed to do.It comes down to not having any intensity, he added. It's been our problem off and on all season, and we lose games because of it.The Knights not only had to sweep their remaining two games, but hope that Port Angeles suffers a setback or two in its final trio, which come against league-leading Sequim, runner-up (and top 4A representative) North Kitsap and Port Townsend.They haven't got it easy, which is good, Lindberg said. We need some help.The Knights found themselves in a 10-point hole in the final minute of the first half Tuesday after Matt Johnson buried a 3-point basket to give the Roughriders a 29-19 lead. Only Marcus Mitchell's steal and layup with two seconds left got the halftime deficit back to single digits.Bremerton ate away at PA's cushion in the third quarter, getting as close as two points, 33-31, on Garrett Tate's 3-pointer. But turnovers and poor shot selection - which Lindberg attributed to the Knights just not running their offense with any sense of conviction - scuttled their chances to get into the lead.We were lazy, and we didn't execute, Lindberg said. We'd get halfway through something and just give up on it. We did this against Bainbridge, too (in a 65-51 loss on Jan. 30), and it's frustrating.Lindberg refused to let his team's relative youth, or the pressure of being in a playoff race, be an excuse for the Knights.We've played, what, 18 games, now, Lindberg asked and answered. The sophomores aren't sophomores any more.Both teams played without key members down the stretch. Jacoby Pender, the Roughriders' best ballhandler and most versatile scorer, tweaked a chronic ankle injury and sat out the last three and a half minutes. Sam Flemister, Bremerton's scoring leader with 13, was bench-bound after suffering a hip injury when he flung himself into the stands after a loose ball. "

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