Gators end CK’s state hopes

Athletic Decatur team uses second-quarter run to snag win from Cougars.


Sports editor

TACOMA — While ending the season never comes easy, the sting of defeat was especially painful for Central Kitsap.

After the CK boys basketball team fell 63-45 to Decatur in a loser-out district playoff game, seniors like Andrew Shearer couldn’t keep the emotion from coming to the forefront, wiping away tears of disappointment after a season that started so good came to a screeching halt Tuesday.

“We really felt like we should have gone farther this year,” CK senior guard Andrew Braun said. “We worked so hard. We just couldn’t come through in this last game here. It’s too bad.”

With the team setting its sights on the state tournament this year, CK coach Tim Fryer said everyone was disappointed by the loss.

“It’s always tough when you get knocked out,” Fryer said. “When state is your goal, it’s always tough to get knocked out like that. But they got knocked out by a great team.”

Speedy guard Marcus Tibbs led the Decatur charge, scoring a game-high 30 while helping Decatur blow open a close game in the second quarter.

After the first quarter ended 15-13 Gators, CK slipped behind as Decatur shot out to a 10-0 run at one point, heading into the half up 33-24 as the Cougars closed the second frame on a 6-0 run of their own.

CK came out red hot out of the break, narrowing the gap to 35-33 Decatur before the Gators’ speed helped put them back up on a 7-0 run.

“The third quarter was pretty much ours until the last 30-40 seconds,” Fryer said. “And then that kind of set the tone for the fourth.”

The pressure Decatur was able to apply thanks to their quickness forced CK into 24 turnovers, another key factor in the loss.

“They got us to make mistakes,” Fryer said. “And we didn’t shoot all that great. It’s one of those things.”

The team speed of the Gators kept CK off kilter throughout.

“They just had a few quick guys,” Braun said. “We just let them get going. Once they get going, it’s hard to stop a team like that.”

Decatur jumped out early in the fourth quarter, beginning the period on a 10-2 run that would doom CK to fouling the remainder of the game.

While Fryer said CK prepared adequately, he said Decatur was a harder team to read than most.

“You just never know,” he said. “We heard they were outstanding. But in the warm-ups they don’t look that special. But when the whistle blows, they’re ready to play.”

Brandon Durham led CK with 14 points, most coming inside, and Phillip Thomas added 13 for the Cougars.

While Tibbs gave the Cougs fits with his 30-point effort, Braun said Thomas, who defended Tibbs, did a good job. Tibbs made several shots while being contested with a hand in his face or with physical contact.

“Phil did a great job on him,” Braun said. “It’s just hard to defend a guy like that.”

The loss affected no one more than the team’s seniors, including Braun, Shearer, Caleb Brown, Joaquin Paulino and Brian Alspach.

For Braun, there was much he’ll miss about the world of high school hoops.

“Me and Drew Shearer, last year we were kind of in the same situation as some of the juniors this year,” Braun said. “We both decided we were gonna work as hard as we could. The seniors, we were all just focused on doing this for the team. We’ll miss that camaraderie. It’s hard to end with a loss.”

Fryer said this year’s group was one of the top he’s coached.

“This senior bunch, it’s up there as one of my favorites,” he said. “They’ve been a great group of guys all year long. There’s no quit in ’em. They all gave 100 percent no matter what.”