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Basketball | Central Kitsap girls topple South Kitsap, again
PORT ORCHARD — When it comes to Central Kitsap and South Kitsap, it’s been a one-sided rivalry since the girls basketball series reconvened in 2001.
Entering Wednesday’s game, the teams had played 12 times this millennium — and the Cougars won every time.
But Central coach Denise Baxter didn’t want to remind her team about those numbers. With a roster that features five sophomores — the same amount of juniors and seniors on the team — Baxter was more concerned with how her team would handle adversity.
The Cougars responded by making defensive stops and hitting free throws late in the game en route to a 43-34 Narrows League win.
“I think defense was the difference,” Baxter said. “We made them work really hard. We didn’t give them anything down low.”
South (7-5 overall, 5-2 league) tied the game, 32-all, on a jumper by 6-foot-2 post Molly Werder with 5:15 left in the game. Neither team scored again until Central guard Amanda Evans, one of just two seniors on the roster, lofted a shot that banked off the glass and into the net to give the Cougars a 34-32 lead with 3:02 left to give them the lead for good. Evans had a game-high 17 points.
“Once I got the pass, it was muscle memory,” Evans said. “I wasn’t really aware of the score and time.”
That was enough for the Cougars (7-5, 3-3), who converted 9 of 10 free throws in the final 2:48 to pull away. Central shot just 29 percent from the field, but was 13 of 18 at the free-throw line for the game.
Both teams entered the game with two-game winning streaks, but it was difficult to tell during the first half when they combined for 28 turnovers. The Cougars only scored two points in the second quarter when Evans hit a pair of free throws after South coach Mark Lutzenhiser was assessed with a technical foul That gave Central a 17-12 edge with 4:44 left.
But the Wolves made their move in the final 70 seconds of the half. Werder capped a 6-0 run he she rebounded a shot by Tajanae Tibbs and raced down court for a layup that just beat the buzzer. That gave South its first lead of the game at 18-17.
Wolves senior Chelnesha Thuring thought the streak might finally be over at that point.
“Honestly, I thought we had it in the bag ... if we just kept shooting our shots,” she said. “We just need to work better offensively.”
The Wolves’ lead lasted until Evans, who scored the first eight points of the third quarter for the Cougars, hit a 3-pointer with 5:54 remaining in the period to give Central a 23-20 lead. South only tied the score twice in the second half and Evans responded both times to retake the advantage.
“We needed a bucket and she’s instant offense at times,” Baxter said. “She knows how to get to the hoop.”
Despite the outcome, both teams are in different positions in the standings. South is tied with Gig Harbor for first place in the Bridge Division, while the Cougars are fourth in the Bay.
Both teams play against the opposite division again today. The Cougars host Lincoln (3-7, 2-5), while South plays at Olympia (7-4, 5-1).
“That’s going to be tough,” Thuring said. “We have a lot of work left to do.”
Central Kitsap 43, at South Kitsap 34
Central Kitsap 15 2 12 14 — 43
South Kitsap 10 8 8 8 — 34
Central Kitsap — Brittany Zawadzki 0, Amanda Evans 17, Natalie Pfaff 8, Tajanae Tibbs 5, Kirsten Anthony 8, Lindsey Simonis 5, Maggie Coleman 0. South Kitsap — Kelsey Callaghan 2, Samantha Gulisao 0, Stephanie Osterdahl 6, Amanda Feeney 0, Danielle Stewart 0, Ashlee Stoner 0, Chelnesha Thuring 6, Tori Fairweather 0, Angel Sheldon 6, Molly Werder 14.