Roughriders show Cougars how to get it done

Central Kitsap coach Al Gleich has been saying it all year long.

“These guys just don’t know how to win.”

The exasperated veteran coach repeated those words one more time following the Cougars’ 55-44 loss to Port Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

Central, as it has all season, showed flashes of what it can do when its concentration level matches its energy level.

The Cougars were the aggressors in the first half, matching PA’s defensive intensity as they built a 23-17 halftime lead.

When Brad Mader’s left-handed jump hook found the net, Central found itself up 27-20 halfway through the third quarter. And PA was in foul trouble. Two starters had three fouls and another, Matt Johnson, had four after picking up a technical for disputing a call.

The Roughriders overcame the adversity, putting together a 17-2 run to knock out the Cougars faster than a phantom punch from Mike Tyson.

“I wasn’t worried we couldn’t do it,” PA coach Lee Sinnes said. “I was worried we wouldn’t have enough players to do it.”

If Sinnes knows one thing, it’s that his team is going to go all-out, from start to finish. That’s the primary reason the Roughriders were on top of the Narrows League Bridge Division going into its showdown with co-leading South Kitsap on Friday, Jan. 25. PA’s not loaded with superior athletic ability.

“You can’t have letdowns,” Sinnes said. “This isn’t like the old Olympic League. There’s no Chimacum, no Port Townsend, no Klahowya.”

The kind of mental toughness Port Angeles displayed is exactly what Gleich has been looking for.

“We play so hard at times and so well together, and then they’ll just go brain dead,” Gleich said.

Senior guard Mike Malala agreed.

“We play a quarter here, a quarter there,” he said. “It would be nice to see what would happen if we played a full game.”

Gleich shook his head, knowing that time is running out. Counting Friday’s home game against Gig Harbor, the Cougars had just four games left, including a showdown with rival Olympic at home on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

“Olympic’s going to be hungrier than heck. And it doesn’t get easier with South Kitsap and Bremerton. Until these kids understand they have to play 32 minutes of basketball, they’re not going to get it done,” Gleich said. “You can’t play 18 or 20, it’s 32 minutes of basketball and it’s every night.”

Sinnes, whose son Matt led the Roughriders with 18 points, said Central’s lack of a true point guard is critical.

“I’ve had Jordan Rhoads now for three years,” Sinnes said. “He doesn’t care if he scores. He averages about two points a game but he gets us into the offense. I don’t know what I’m going to do when he leaves. Maybe I’ll retire.”

Marcus McKay was CK’s high scorer with nine points. The Cougars got up just 37 shots (13-for-28 from two-point range and 1-for-9 from 3-point range). PA hit 7 of 16 three-pointers. CK outrebounded PA, 31-23, with Lukas Henne and Malala grabbing seven each.

Central had 12 of its 16 turnovers in the second half.

“They got the lead and passed it and passed it and passed it and got an easy shot,” Gleich said. “We’re just too anxious to score. We just can’t stay patient for four quarters.”

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