CK wins another thriller against Tides

BREMERTON - Warning: The faint of heart and easily over-excited are advised to steer clear of Central Kitsap-Gig Harbor boys basketball games.

For the third time this season, the two squads played to a thrilling last-second finale with the No. 3 Bridge Division seed heading into this weekend’s Narrows League tournament on the line. And for the second time this year, CK walked away with a narrow victory, 61-59, upending the Tides on a pair of JR Gordon free throws with less than two seconds remaining Tuesday at Bremerton High School.

For Central Kitsap (13-8, 9-7) the win means the Cougars have automatically advanced into the 4A West Central District 3 tournament. It also pits them against Mount Tahoma for fifth place in the Narrows League at the NL tourney at 10 a.m. Saturday at Bremerton, which is hosting the NL tournament.

For Gig Harbor (12-9, 9-7) the loss means they are now in a winner-to-districts, loser-out playoff for the seventh and final NL spot against Bellarmine Friday.

“It’s nice to win that one,” CK coach Tim Fryer said. “A win is a win. It would be nice to get that next one and get on a winning streak.”

On a night that CK shot just 5-for-12 at the charity stripe, Gordon was able to drain the most important free throws to secure the win.

“In the first half we shot less than great (from the line) and they shot fantastic,” Fryer said. CK shot just 3-for-9 in the first half while Gig Harbor was 3-for-4.

Those missed chances helped the Tides get on a 13-1 run across the first and second quarters that gave GH a 24-12 lead with 7 minutes, 18 seconds on the clock. But the sharp-shooting combo of Trent Bearbower and JR Gordon not only kept CK in the game but also propelled them ahead behind a barrage of three-pointers. Bearbower sank 6 threes in the game (4 in the second half) and Gordon knocked down a pair.

CK would take its first lead with about 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter thanks to Gordon’s second three. The Cougars were able to extend the lead to 59-51 with less than 2 minutes remaining in the fourth when Gig Harbor started dropping some bombs of their own.

The Tides’ Geoff McIntosh hit 2 of his 3 three-pointers to close the gap to 59-57 with just 18.7 seconds left. CK started to move the ball around to kill the clock but ended up turning the ball over on a steal by Gig Harbor’s Nick Casanova that led to a transition bucket to even the score at 59-59 with just 4.9 seconds. CK sent the in-bounds pass to Gordon who got hit by Zack Pappuleas with just more than 1 second left to send Gordon to the line for the one-and-one. Gordon kept his composure and sank both shots despite a noisy crowd.

“That was a great game,” Gig Harbor coach Lyle McIntosh said. “Both teams played hard. Bearbower was making some huge shots. When they started hitting their shots, that was the difference. We dominated the inside. We just turned the ball over a couple times.”

CK did do a good job against the Tides main middleman Ryan Christensen, holding him to just 8 points and 4 boards. But Christensen did have 3 blocks and made some strong passes in the face of the double team. One beneficiary of Christensen’s passes was Mathias Ward, who led the Tides with 17 points and had a game-high 6 boards.

“When we’re doing the double team on Christensen, he did a good job of finding the open guy,” Fryer said.

Bearbower had a game-high 20 points for CK and Gordon and Glenn Perkins each had 15. Neil Fryer had 9 points, 2 steals and 2 blocks, including one that sent the ball back to mid-court.

CK came out much more aggressive in the second half, opening up the outside more with physical inside play. One player that symbolized the change was Nick Arena. The role-player came off the bench in the second half and while at 6-feet was able to get physical inside against the 6’8” Christensen and 6’5” Ward. That kind of gutsy play earned CK a win that Fryer said he hopes will continue into the playoffs.

“Their state of mind is really good,” Fryer said. They’re all pumped up right now.”

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