South displaces Central as No. 1 team

If there was reverence and respect for the tradition and the athletic success at South Kitsap High, the Cougars weren’t denying it Wednesday night.

After all, that might be the only way to explain how Central Kitsap lost an 11-point lead with 2:11 remaining in the third quarter, and ultimately the game, 58-47, to the Wolves.

“They played like they were intimidated,” CK coach Tim Fryer said. “They missed lay-ins. We aren’t an inside team.”

But SK (7-5, 5-1 league), which moved past the Cougars into first place with the win, may have been the team that was a little too respectful for the first 24 minutes.

“Basically, we played passively for the first three quarters,” said Wolves’ forward Jacob Beitinger, who paced SK with 14 points. “We just became more aggressive in the last quarter.”

Connor Gehring, who scored 13 points for the Wolves, showed that when he scored on a drive and converted a free throw to cut CK’s lead to 43-41. Beitinger then was fouled on consecutive drives, making 3-of-4 free throws, to tie the game, 44-44.

SK proceeded to score 10 unanswered points en route to a 20-3 run that left little question about the outcome.

“They battled hard,” said SK coach John Callaghan, referring to the Cougars. “We knew our pressure hopefully would make a difference. Once your legs go, it’s tough to hit the shots.”

CK (8-4, 5-2), which fell into a second-place tie in the Bridge Division with Shelton, didn’t score for more than six minutes until Brice Brooks converted a 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds remaining. That cut the Cougars’ deficit to 54-47 until consecutive layups by SK’s Derrick Webb and Gehring brought the score to its final.

“South Kitsap played like they’ve been to state a couple of years in a row,” Fryer said. “It’s hard to let that tradition go.

“Central Kitsap hasn’t had it for a long time, and we’re trying to get it back.”

The Cougars, who finished 9-11 last year, never have made an appearance in the state basketball tournament as a 4A school. SK, which now has won six of its last seven games, has advanced to the state tournament the last two years and seems poised for its third appearance.

Just don’t tell that to CK’s top player.

“It doesn’t affect us,” said Brooks, who scored a game-high 22 points. “One game doesn’t make a season.”

Brooks eagerly anticipates the regular-season showdown against the Wolves at SK on Feb. 13.

“Of course,” he said. “I want to win the rest of our games and take back first place.”

And build some reverence and respect of their own.

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