TACOMA — All Central Kitsap could do was keep grinding away in the face of adversity.
A bad shooting night from the floor, tough bounces off the rim and the frustration of a seemingly impenetrable Capital defense was washed away by an incredible fourth quarter that saw the Cougars bounce back and score 18 points to capture a 41-39 victory.
The win gave Central Kitsap its first state berth since 2004. The team will play Saturday at noon at Rogers High School against Spanaway Lake for seeding.
“I’m so proud of my guys, how much they’ve grown since the beginning,” said senior Colby White, who shook off a tough start to finish with 12 points.
Central Kitsap took its first lead of the game with 3:15 left in regulation when Maurice Green knotted up the contest with a big 3-pointer. After Capital’s Luke Riedel put his team back ahead with a layup, Jo Jo Johnson struck from the outside to put Central Kitsap back ahead by one.
White found Green for an open jumper with 1:25 to go to extend the lead to 37-34. White then connected with Green again on a fastbreak and Green converted the open layup. It was 39-34 with just 39.8 seconds left. Capital still had several fouls to give, but finally got in the bonus and sent White to the line, who hit both of his free throws to all but seal the win.
Green finished tied with White with 12 points.
Capital seemed determine to keep White, who was averaging 19.7 points per game from beating them, so they employed a creative zone to give him little shooting room. While the team as a whole initially struggled from the floor — they started 4-for-23 — they kept taking their shots and they eventually started falling.
“What I was telling them was, ‘keep shooting with confidence,’” White said.
McMinds said Capital has never played zone against them before and was expecting to face a man-to-man defense. But perhaps they watched film on Central Kitsap’s previous game against Peninsula in which their opponent also employed a zone.
“To Capital’s credit, they threw us off,” said head coach Scott McMinds.
The Cougars have a quick turnaround, playing a noon Saturday game after a 6 p.m. game the night before. But there won’t be much difference between getting the No. 5 or No. 6 seed out of the district. Either way, they will be facing a high-level 3A team at regionals.
But with just two seniors on the roster, the remaining underclassmen will get a good look at the level of play required to be successful in the postseason.
“We’ve got a ton of young guys,” McMinds said. “This is such a great experience for them.”
Central Kitsap 41, Capital 39
CK 4 4 15 18 — 41
CP 9 8 9 13 — 39
Central Kitsap (41) — Green 12, White 12, Searer 8, Massey 6, Johnson 3.
Capital (39) — Rieder 18, Brandsma 11, Halstead 6, Potkonjak 4.
Bremerton falls to Franklin Pierce one game shy of regionals
Kitsap nearly got a fifth team to the regional round of the state tournament Friday, but Franklin Pierce pulled away from Bremerton in the second half and eliminated the Knights, 71-51.
Bremerton trailed by just two at halftime, but Franklin Pierce pulled away on a 14-0 run late in the third quarter. Caleb Washington led with 19 points while Keith Jackmon added 15 points and six rebounds.
The Knights finished the season with a 14-9 record.
Final district games set for Saturday
The North Kitsap boys are in the biggest game Saturday as they face Lindbergh for the 2A West Central District III championship at 2 p.m. at Wilson High School. The Vikings survived a tough semifinal game against White River, which went to double overtime, but they prevailed 66-59. Logan Chmielewski led the way had 16 points and 23 rebounds in that game.
The Klahowya boys and girls will both get a chance at redemption in their respective 1A tournaments. The boys get a rematch with Vashon Island at 2 p.m. at South Kitsap High School. Vashon Island prevailed in their first meeting on Tuesday, 39-18.
The girls will get another shot at Cascade Christian, which defeated them 44-18 on Monday. That game is set for 4 p.m. at South Kitsap. Both games are winner-to-state, loser-out scenarios.
The North Kitsap girls will play for third place in their 2A district tournament against Franklin Pierce at 5:30 p.m, as will Chief Kitsap Academy in the 1B Tri-District tournament. The Bears play Rainier Christian at 3:30 p.m. at Mount Vernon Christian.