PORT ORCHARD — With three juniors and two sophomores in the starting lineup for its Dec. 1 opener, South Kitsap High’s boys’ basketball team knew it was in for a tough matchup against an experienced, well-coached Olympia squad.
And, true to form, the Bears sizzled early, taking off on a 10-0 run in the second quarter from which the Wolves never recovered.
Despite improved play by the Wolves in the second half, Olympia went on to post a 49-37 victory.
South Kitsap got a game-high 19 points from junior wing Deante Ward, but the team struggled to create high-percentage opportunities in the paint against a quick, aggressive Olympia defense.
“They played hard, but we have struggled with physical teams,” South Kitsap head coach John Callaghan said. “[Olympia] is as physical as it’s going to get.”
The critical sequence took place in the second quarter when Olympia opened with consecutive 3-pointers from guards Dylan Sawyer, Ethan Gahm and Lucas Bowser.
The shots pushed the Bears’ lead to 22-11; South Kitsap would only occasionally trim the deficit to single digits from that point forward.
“We just couldn’t hit a shot,” Callaghan said. “We were getting shots, but we had a little stage-fright where we were dribbling around when we should just be moving the ball.”
The Wolves were held off the board for the first four minutes of the game until Kyler Kelso notched a basket, which helped turn momentum in their favor. A 3-pointer by Kelso with 47 seconds remaining in the first quarter gave South Kitsap its only lead of the game, but Sawyer answered with a long three of his own to restore Olympia’s lead.
The ill-fated second quarter proved to be the difference — the Wolves managed to tally just three points. The two teams scored 23 points each in the second half, but the Wolves never got on a prolonged run to narrow the score.
Any time South Kitsap threatened, the Bears generated a response. And it usually came from Bowser’s smooth-shooting stroke. He led the Bears with 17 points and hit four 3-pointers in the game.
Junior wing Donavin Grant was a bright spot for South Kitsap, scoring six points off the bench. He was a threat to score any time he touched the ball and his ability to drive the lane helped open up more opportunities for his teammates on the outside.
“We have guys that can do the job,” Callaghan said.
“They just have to work at it and gain the confidence to do it.”
Olympia 49, South Kitsap 37
Olympia 13 13 12 11 — 49
South Kitsap 11 3 12 11 — 37
Olympia (49) — Bowser 17, Young 9, Sawyer 6, Wood 6, Grant 4, Gahm 3, Effland 2, Mastin 2.
South Kitsap (37) — Ward 19, Kelso 10, Grant 6, Kambich 2.