Sports

CK sweeps Bucklin Hill hoops battle

For 13 winters, 10 of them as head coach, Al Gleich had coached basketball at Olympic High. He taught at the school for nearly 20 years.

On Friday, Jan. 4, Gleich walked back onto Olympic’s homecourt as coach of the visiting and district rival Central Kitsap Cougars.

“It’s a little strange,” Gleich said before the game.

Not nearly as strange as he and his Cougars would have felt if Olympic had somehow pulled off what would surely have been the greatest comeback in the history of this Bucklin Hill rivalry.

The school’s old coach may have been in the house, and this is the season for giving, but Olympic was not about to give up, not even when it fell behind by 18 points with 3:50 left.

The Trojans, led by Geoff Kelstrup, pulled within three points twice but Central Kitsap knocked down some clutch free throws and escaped with a 64-58 Narrows League Bridge Division victory.

“Whew,” said Central Kitsap’s Mike Malala afterward. “We thought we had Kelstrup locked down. We knew where was coming off screens and stuff, but in the fourth quarter … wow, he started launching and they were going in.”

Kelstrup misfired on all 10 of his attempts in the first half, eight of them 3-point casts, and didn’t make his first field goal until the middle of the third quarter. But the senior guard exploded for 16 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including four 3-pointers.

He turned one into a 4-point play after being fouled on the shot, pulling Olympic within 57-50 with 1:46 left.

The Cougars, who seemingly had this one locked up in the middle of the third quarter, were suddenly in a tight game.

“I was a little worried,” said Aaron Brien, who hit two early 3-pointers to help stake the Cougars to a 15-2 lead. “With Kelstrup, he’s capable of pulling something off.”

Central, shooting just 55 percent from the foul line as a team going into the game, hit 7 of 8 free throws inside the final minute and 9 of 12 in the fourth quarter overall to ruin Olympic’s comeback bid.

The win broke a five-game losing skid for the Cougars (3-9 overall). More importantly, it evened their league record at 2-2 going into Friday’s game at South Kitsap.

Central was patient offensively, especially 6-5 Lukas Henne, who burned the Trojans for 14 points, all of the inside variety. It was basic basketball. Pass and cut.

“Part of our problem has been not getting enough inside offense,” Gleich said. “It just opens up other things for you.”

Olympic coach Robert Polk was proud of his club’s comeback effort.

“The jump-shooting Gods were not on our side,” Polk said of Oly’s early shooting woes. “I did a lot of hoping and praying that good things would start to happen for us. I never doubted out kids would continue to play hard. I knew they would make some shots. I just wondered when it would start to happen.”

Guard Marcus McKay led CK with 15 points, scoring nine in the final quarter.

Brendan Campbell added 13 points for Olympic, which played without rugged 6-2 seniors Chris Lambert and Jake Fry. Lambert, a starter, had a family commitment and Fry was out with a concussion after crashing hard to the floor in Olympic’s game against Auburn Riverside the previous week.

Olympic (0-3, 4-7) will try to get back on the winning track with home games tonight against South Kitsap and Friday against Bremerton.

Central Kitsap 64, Olympic 58

Central Kitsap 15 13 19 17 — 64

Olympic 6 12 11 29 — 58

Central Kitsap — Marcus McKay 15, Mike Malala 11, Lukas Henne 14, Aaron Brien 9, Chad Larson 4, Brice Brooks 4, Greg Stewart, Kevin Van Hook 3, Brad Mader 4, Nick Hoisington.

Olympic — Geoff Kelstrup 21, Aldwin David 2, Chris Soterakopoulos 10, Joel Ackley 4, Brendan Campbell 13, Ferbien Encomienda 2, Josh Johnson.

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