Klahowya hoops teams take momentum into New Year

SILVERDALE — The 1A Olympic League as we know it may be gone after this school year, but the ride to the finish this winter season should be a good one.

With Coupeville exiting at the conclusion of the 2017-18 high school sports season, no one yet knows what will become of the three remaining teams, including Klahowya, but the athletic directors can worry about that issue. For the coaches and players, the focus is on the road in front of them.

The heart of the league schedule awaits the Eagles basketball teams in 2018 and both coaches believe the top prize is up for grabs.

“From what I’ve seen, I think there’s going to be a lot of parity in the league and I think anyone can win it,” Scott Eberhard, the girls head coach, said.

The girls are 2-6 and have started the year with some difficult games against 2A schools such as North Mason and Kingston, and tough smaller school teams such as Forks and Charles Wright Academy. Their league schedule opened on Dec. 15 with a 41-36 loss at Chimacum.

“We played well against them,” Eberhard said. “We beat Crosspoint, and we played very well in a loss against Kingston. That was a good game for us.”

They got the chance to get their scoring shoes on against a young Chief Kitsap Academy on Dec. 19. In a boys and girls double-header, the girls walked away with a 61-11 victory led by 14 points from Alexis James and 12 from Chelsea Smith. Chief Kitsap Academy is only in its second year and is a program that is still putting its foundation in place, but it was a game that should give Klahowya some confidence going forward. Their next league game is against Port Townsend at home on Jan. 3.

“We’re still working hard and playing hard,” said Eberhard.

Klahowya 61, Chief Kitsap Academy 11

CKA 0 4 5 2 – 11

KLA 20 16 16 9 – 61

Chief Kitsap Academy (11) – Boure 5, Carlon 4, Usman 2.

Klahowya (61) – James 14, Smith 12, Bumbalough 9, Fuller 6, Schultz 6, Woodrum 6, Eberhard 4, Hendricks 2, Lueck 2.

Second game

In the second game of the double-header, the Klahowya boys had their hands full with an aggressive, energetic Bears team, but the Eagles prevailed 69-36, playing especially strong in the second half.

Led by junior John Hartford’s game-high 17 points, Klahowya pulled away after leading by just nine at halftime. The Eagles came out firing in the second half, with back-to-back layups by Garrett Betzing and Lucas Becker. A 10-2 run to close the third quarter gave Klahowya a comfortable margin.

“In the first half, we didn’t play as well as I thought we could have,” said boys head coach Bryan Thoemke.

“They played zone on us most of the time and we really did a good job of executing the zone offense. We had good passing, we were finding the open cutters and we scored a lot of easy points that way.”

While the girls team gets a break from games during the holidays, the boys are headed to the Olympic Peninsula to take part in the Crescent High School Holiday Tournament. On the schedule are Sulamita Christian and Shoreline Christian on Dec. 28 and 29. Including the tournament, the boys team will play six games away from the Klahowya gym before returning home for a Jan. 16 match against Coupeville.

“Every game we go into, we focus on getting better,” Thoemke said. “Playing better as a team, executing our offense more effectively, getting better on defense, so we have two more opportunities to do that before the next league game.”

Klahowya 69, Chief Kitsap Academy 36

CKA 7 14 10 5 – 36

KLA 13 17 20 19 – 69

Chief Kitsap Academy (36) – Sigo 8, Thomas 8, Wion 7, Andrews 6, Marquez 4, Natrall 2, Capoeman 1.

Klahowya (69) – Hartford 17, G. Betzing 16, Becker 12, Smith 8, Coots 6, Lewis 6, Kraft 2, L. Betzing 2.

— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@soundpublish ing.com.