Sports

Bremerton falls hard (3 OTs) out of district field

"AUBURN - The Bremerton High School boys basketball team went into last Saturday's elimination round of the Class 4A West Central District tournament hoping to play more than one game.They got their wish - but not in the way they had in mind.The Knights were bounced out of the tournament by Rogers of Puyallup, 84-79 at Auburn High School. But it took the Rams three overtimes - an extra 12 minutes, almost an entire bonus half - to end the Knights' season.Have we played better this season? Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg asked after his team came from behind three times to extend the loser-out game. Yes. But we played very hard and very well. It was a gutsy effort by our kids.All things being equal, the Knights might've been able to dust Rogers and stay alive for at least one more round of the WCD tourney, where state berths await the top seven finishers.But all things didn't seem that equal. Bremerton lost despite making three more field goals than the Rams (29-26), led by the career-high 30-point effort of junior forward Kellen Alley.But Rogers outscored the Knights 28-15 from the free throw line, where they got a whopping 42 chances culled from 30 personal fouls on Bremerton - which went to the line precisely half as many times and shot 15 for 21.Those mathematics weren't lost on Lindberg. He refused to comment on specifics of the officiating, except to say that his players - five of whom fouled out - were confused by the inconsistency of the calls.Refs will try to set a precedent early on by calling it close, Lindberg said, but these guys didn't stay consistent with that.The result was a late-game parade to the Bremerton bench of players who had been whistled for their fifth fouls. Sam Flemister, the team's leading scorer in the regular season, was the first to go, with with 1 minute, 38 seconds to go and his team leading 59-58.He was followed by Marcus Mitchell in the second overtime and - in order - Michael Stitt, Joe Bollinger and Ken Justice, all in an awful 27-second span of the third supplementary period.Even thus depleted, the Knights stayed in the game. Alley gave them their last lead, 74-73, with a spinning jumper from the baseline after an offensive rebound. He had another basket and a free throw to keep his team within two, and Josh Walesby - seeing his first varsity minutes all season - cut to the hoop for a layup off Garrett Tate's feed to make it 81-79 with 46 seconds left.But the Knights' offense came up dry. Zach Triggs, another late sub, and Tate both missed 3-pointers that looked like they had a chance to drop, and the Rams finally were able to close the game out from - where else? - the free throw line.With many of his team foul-fettered almost from the opening tip (starting guards Stitt and Mitchell both had two on them before many fans had settled into their seats), Alley had a breakout game. He was their warhead early, and then, along with Tate, tried to carry Bremerton through the final overtime.Kellen played huge, Lindberg said of the athletic 6-foot-3 junior, who played all 44 minutes and added 17 rebounds to his 30-point resume. I know it's a cliche, but he became a man tonight. I think this game is going to be a turning point for him.It was a wild game, Lindberg understated. I think a lot of people would agree that it would go down as one of the better high school games they've seen, just for big shots and great effort.The loss left Bremerton 0-2 against the Puyallup School District after a first-round 63-48 loss to ninth-ranked Puyallup last week.But Lindberg - who loses Flemister, Justice and Tate to graduation off this year's roster - was buoyed by his team's performance headed into next year.I told my seniors I appreciated the effort, the third-year coach said. They've given this program so much. Then I told the rest of them I expect to be right back in this position (playoffs) next year. "

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