Sports

Darkhorse Trojans shooting for district playoffs

The Narrows League Bridge Division’s tough enough without having to play two crossover games against the Narrows’ Bay Division schools.

And when those two games are against Lincoln and Foss, the last two state 4A basketball champions, you can’t help but wonder if somebody’s trying to tell you something..

“When I saw who we drew, I figured it was the Tacoma schools getting back at me for wanting to be in the league so much,” said Olympic High coach and athletic director Robert Polk, one of the proponents of moving the Olympic League’s 4A schools into the Narrows.

The crossover games — at Foss on Dec. 5 and at Lincoln on Dec. 7 — don’t count in the league standings.

The Bay Division, top to bottom, is arguably the best 4A basketball league in the state.

But don’t overlook the Bridge teams, said Polk.

“I look at Bremerton’s lineup and I think whoever they play on that side, they’re going to give ‘em a great game,” Polk said. “Gig Harbor’s always been very competitive and South Kitsap, the last few years, has really come into its own. They have kids who play hard and now they have a big kid (6-6 sophomore Jake Beitinger) inside who can score points. Port Angeles has a very solid program and the (Matt) Sinnes kid is back. (Coach) Bob Fronk has his system established at North Kitsap. They had a very good summer. The big (Bryan) Haupt kid can shoot it. Central has a new coach (Al Gleich), so you don’t know what to expect out of them.

“The Bay Division will look over here and think it’s easy basketball. They are more athletic, but I think the kids on this side of the bridge are going to compete with them very well.”

And that goes for his own darkhorse squad, which will be led by senior guard Geoff Kelstrup, who averaged 18.8 points as a junior, making 36 percent of his 3-point attempts.

The Trojans’ goal is to grab one of the Bridge Division’s four playoff positions.

“I don’t see why not,” Polk said. “I do know our seniors want to have a good senior year. ... I can’t predict wins and losses, but I do know every night that our kids are going to come out and play hard and give it their best shot.”

The 5-foot-10 Kelstrup, who closed his junior season with a 37-point outburst against Central Kitsap, will be the focus of Olympic’s offense.

“He knows he’s got the green light,” Polk said of Kelstrup. “Anytime a coach has a kid who can hit threes like he can, I would be a fool not to get him the ball.

“Would I ever tell him to stop shooting? Only if he’s clanking it, but we haven’t had to have that conversation.”

Last year’s second-leading scorer Casey Manchester graduated, and Polk knows Olympic needs somebody to emerge to pick up the slack. Otherwise, teams will gang up defensively on Kelstrup.

Polk thinks 6-2 post Chris Lambert, a returning starter, will be a threat. John Holmes, a 6-foot senior guard, has shown flashes of offensive brilliance in practice and 6-4 sophomore starter Brendan Campbell, who has a 30-inch vertical jump, could be a major factor.

Senior Aldwin David returns as the starter at point guard and 6-2 senior forward Joel Ackley saw considerable action a year ago, so the Trojans aren’t lacking experience.

For Olympic to succeed, Polk said the Trojans need to execute basic fundamentals — defense, rebounding, setting screens.

“We can’t go out and out-athlete teams,” he said.

Offensively, the plan is to push the ball up the floor and score easy baskets, rather than slog it down to halfcourt. Defensively, look for the Trojans to mix things up, a different approach from a year ago, when Olympic tried to press fullcourt every minute.

The Trojans open with four road games. They played at Shelton on Tuesday, Nov. 27 and play in Bellevue against Interlake on Friday, Nov. 30 before testing themselves in Tacoma against Bay powers Foss and Lincoln.

TROJANS AT A GLANCE

Coach — Robert Polk (5th year).

Last year — 8-12.

Returners — Joel Ackley, sr., 6-0, P; Aldwin David, sr., 5-8,

G; Ferbien Encomienda, jr., 5-9, G; Jacob Fry, sr., 6-3, P; Geoff Kelstrup, sr., 5-10, G; Chris Lambert, sr., 6-2, P/F; Chris Soterakopoulos, sr., 5-11, G.

Newcomers — Brendan Campbell, so., 6-3, F; John Holmes, sr., 6-0, G/F; Josh Johnson, jr., 6-4, F/P.

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