PORT ORCHARD — It’s likely there isn’t an SPSL team that has had a tougher start to the season than South Kitsap.
After falling to league champion Curtis on the road last week, South Kitsap welcomed Olympia — a potential top-three league team — to Port Orchard on Tuesday evening, but a 10-2 Bears run in the second quarter helped them to a 57-49 victory over the Wolves.
That quarter made all the difference as it was the only one in which the South Kitsap offense could not keep pace. The Wolves matched or surpassed Olympia’s output in the other three.
“We definitely had our chances, we just didn’t finish some shots and some drives,” head coach John Callaghan said. “But we played hard. It wasn’t a lack of effort but maybe a lack of execution sometimes.”
DeAnte Ward was a bright spot for the Wolves. He had a game-high 18 points, and his smooth shooting stroke was in good form as he picked up where he left off last season as his team’s most dangerous offensive weapon. Ward hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter to go with one from Kyler Kelso, giving South Kitsap a 10-9 lead.
Olympia put on a clinic in ball movement in the second quarter. South Kitsap did its best to adjust, but given enough time, the Bears were usually able to get an open man cutting in underneath the basket or find an opportunity to drive the lane. It also didn’t hurt that the tall, physical Bears were also a threat to shoot from the outside.
South Kitsap managed to get back within three points midway through the third quarter. After a quiet start to the game, senior Jackson Kambich found his scoring stroke, picking up seven of his 10 points.
“We just couldn’t get that bucket we needed to get over the hump,” Callaghan said.
But momentum swung again on a late charge called against Kambich. The South Kitsap bench argued for a blocking foul on Olympia, which would have given Kambich a chance to complete the three-point play — his initial shot had gone in — and cut the lead to three points. Instead, the ball went back to the Bears and guard Ethan Gahm beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to give his team a nine-point lead heading into the fourth.
South Kitsap managed to hold Olympia to just one field goal in the fourth quarter, but the Bears were sent to the free throw line quite a few times, especially after they got into the bonus. Olympia was 15-of-26 from the line, including converting 12-of-20 in the fourth quarter while South Kitsap was 4-for-9 for the game.
“There’s a lot of good stuff we can build on, but it’s disappointing,” Callaghan said.
The Wolves head back on the road Friday, Dec. 7 for a contest at Emerald Ridge and then play Tuesday, Dec. 11 at Bellarmine Prep. They return home at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15 for a non-league game against Everett.
Olympia 57, South Kitsap 49
Oly 9 17 17 14 — 57
SK 10 7 17 15 — 49
Olympia (57) — Johnson 15, Grant 14, Gahm 13, Lindsay 5, Sawyer 4, Thompson 4, Z. Swanson 2.
South Kitsap (49) — Ward 18, Kambich 10, Kelso 9, Escolta 6, Mackie 4, Morkert 2.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.