Cougar boys overcome poor start to defeat SK

The old adage is that big-time players perform their best in the most important games.

If that’s the case, the Central Kitsap boys basketball should feel pretty good about its future prospects after star forward Brice Brooks was held scoreless for most of the game and the Cougars still defeated South Kitsap, 53-43, on Wednesday in a tie-breaker game at Bremerton High School.

The win clinched first place for CK (16-4) in the Narrows League Bridge Division — its first since topping the now-defunct Olympic League in 1996 — and means the Cougars will face the Mount Tahoma Thunderbirds at 7 p.m. today at Bremerton High to determine the No. 1 seed from the Narrows League in the West Central District beginning Thursday.

But the outcome wasn’t necessarily as easy as the final score reflected.

SK (14-7) actually led 40-38 after a shot by Derrick Webb with 5:46 minutes remaining before CK rallied.

“It’s always good to be on this side,” said first-year CK coach Tim Fryer. Neil Fryer, who scored a game-high 25 points, and teammate Glen Perkins connected on consecutive 3-pointers to give the Cougar a 44-40 lead. That was just the start as Perkins made a layup before Brooks scored his first points with 2:05 remaining, giving CK a 48-41 lead.

“The biggest shot of the game was when (Perkins) hit that three,” SK coach John Callaghan said. “Their role players did a good job.”

The Wolves never recovered.

“I don’t think we played really intelligent in the second half,” Callaghan said. “We knew we had to get out on the perimeter (to guard Fryer). Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy.”

The Cougars could have said the same about themselves when they converted 5-of-23 shots during the first half.

“We came out a little tentative,” Neil Fryer said. “We went into the locker room and realized we had to get over that or we were going to get blown out. We fixed what was wrong and came back like a good team should.”

With Brooks limited to five points, Fryer and Perkins, who had nine points, scored the bulk on CK’s points.

“Last time, (SK) focused on me,” Fryer said. “I was hoping that it was my turn (to get ignored).”

While the Wolves struggled to defend to defend Fryer, they also couldn’t find an outside offensive presense to match him. SK post players Adam Bennett and Jacob Beitinger combined for 28 points, but no one else scored more than seven.

“They controlled the game when they had to,” Callaghan said.

Controlling the game doesn’t figure to be an easy task for CK against Narrows League Bay Division champion Mount Tahoma (18-2). The teams didn’t meet this season, but the Thunderbirds have won at least six games by 30 points.

“We’ll keep playing our game and expect to win,” Neil Fryer said. “We will play our tempo.”

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