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‘Devastating’ loss sinks Central Kitsap boys basketball
If ever a loss was exceptionally heartbreaking, this was it.
If ever a loss was sudden and unexpected, this was it.
And if ever a loss was utterly devastating, this, surely, was it.
The Central Kitsap boys basketball team saw its season end in shocking fashion Wednesday in front of a near-capacity crowd at Mount Tahoma High School. The Cougars, facing elimination and the prospect of missing the state tournament, went into overtime against Bellarmine Prep, a team they beat twice during the regular season, only to leave the gym on the short end, shellshocked.
Donald Gaddy, the younger brother of McDonald’s All-American and University of Washington-bound guard Abdul Gaddy, hit a 30-foot running 3-pointer as time expired in overtime to lift the Lions to a 72-71 victory in the Class 4A West Central District Tournament.
It was a loser-out game, sending the Cougars home.
“There’s not one dry eye in the locker room right now,” said CK coach Scott McMinds, who lingered outside the home locker room for about 10 minutes before talking to his team. “Like Jim Valvano said, ‘Everyday you need to love, you need to laugh and have your emotions move you to tears.’ These guys are learning that.”
What a way to learn.
What’s more, it appeared as though the Cougars had the game iced in overtime. Abdul Gaddy, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds, had fouled out one minute into the overtime period, taking away the Lions’ top scoring threat, and the Cougars had possession of the ball and a 69-66 lead with 25 seconds remaining.
But CK’s Drew Vettleson, who finished with 11 points, stepped out of bounds while under duress trying to dribble the ball across midcourt to give the Lions the ball — and life — with 18 seconds to go.
Vettleson was then called for a foul on a steal attempt with 15.4 seconds left, sending Bellarmine’s Romece Barnes to the free-throw line. Barnes, who finished with 15 points, missed both free throws, but the rebound off the second miss caromed off the hands of CK’s Brandon Durham, trickling out of bounds.
Off the ensuing inbounds pass, Bellarmine’s Scott Hanson, who made just one field goal in regulation, hit a shoot-and-catch 3-pointer to tie the game 69-69.
The Cougars (16-9) elected not to call timeout and CK senior Cody Thurmond outraced the Lions in transition to find Christian Wesley on the weak side for a go-ahead — and seemingly game-clinching — layup with two seconds remaining. With the score 71-69, the officials added one second to the game-clock after Bellarmine immediately called timeout.
That’s when Donald Gaddy, who finished with 15 points, took the inbounds pass, raced a few strides past midcourt and floated a left-handed prayer, the buzzer sounding with the ball in mid-flight.
What followed was mayhem, the Lions’ fans storming the court. And heartbreak, the Cougars choking back tears.
“Devastating,” said Thomas, who hit two free throws with 11.9 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game 58-58. “We opened up the lead, then a series of events and they hit a half-court shot.”
“It was intense the whole game. Both teams played really well, we both really wanted to win,” Thurmond added. “If they’re going to make a half-court shot to win the game, then it was just kind of meant to be I guess.”
For Bellarmine (15-10) and the Gaddy’s, the dream shot keeps the dream of a state tournament alive. The Lions face Beamer in a winner-to-state game tomorrow night.
“When he fouled out, I got down on myself,” said Donald Gaddy, referring to Abdul. “My brother came up to me and was like, ‘Man, I believe in you. If you get the ball, just take it, take the shot.’”
“I got it, went across halfcourt, shot it and next thing you know, it was in.”
For CK, the loss marked the end of the careers for seniors Thomas, Thurmond, Isaiah Thompson and Brandon Durham, all of whom were First Team All-Narrows League selections, as well as a handful of other seniors.
“We were like family, that’s the only way to describe it,” Thurmond said. “We felt like we wanted this so bad for each other, just family.”
“We’re just sad that it’s over,” Thomas added.
McMinds, who completed his first full season at the helm after eight years at Klahowya, said there was no single person to blame. He said it was “an honor to coach these guys” and he was humbled by the relationships he formed in just one year.
“Bellarmine deserves a lot of credit, they just kept fighting. That’s all you can ask for a team,” McMinds said. “I’m proud of their effort, just as I’m proud of our guys’ effort.”
The Lions had a chance to end the game in regulation after Thomas was called for a foul with one second remaining, sending Anthony Griffin to the line. He missed the first, then the second after CK called timeout to ice him.
Thomas fouled out, as did Abdul Gaddy. Both teams were two players short in overtime due to foul-outs.
“I felt like our depth would outlast theirs,” McMinds said. “We just didn’t get enough distance in the overtime period.”
Perhaps sometimes, distance doesn’t matter.
Bellarmine Prep 14 11 19 14 14 — 72
Central Kitsap 16 8 19 15 13 — 71
Bellarmine Prep—Abdul Gaddy 22, Romece Barnes 15, Jordan Cain 5, Scott Hanson 5, Donald Gaddy 15, Marcus Matthews, Brandon Taft 4, Anthony Griffin 2, Imar White 2, Tommy Joyce 2, Dan Medrzycki.
Central Kitsap—Cody Thurmond 18, Brandon Durham 12, Matt Wain, Isaiah Thompson 10, Phillip Thomas 15, Christian Wesley 3, Drew Vettleson 11, Vern Hempill 2, Tyler Baumgartner.