TACOMA — Gavin Morkert started the game 0-for-4 from the free throw line, but he was on the money when his team needed him the most.
The senior forward went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in the second overtime period against Bellarmine Prep and also scored a pair of field goals to lead his team to a 64-61 victory that could prove to be a big turning point in their season.
Morkert ended up with all eight of South Kitsap’s points in the second extra session and finished with a game-high 25.
“I had to have them,” Morkert said with a chuckle and a sigh. “We needed the game to be over.”
It looked like the Wolves were rolling after an outstanding second quarter gave them a 32-18 lead heading into halftime. South Kitsap was an efficient 7-for-11 from the field, including three 3-pointers, which had been a weak spot in recent losses to Puyallup and Rogers.
But the Lions fought back valiantly and turned the game into a nail-biter.
After Brayden Segerman hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give South Kitsap a 49-35 lead, Bellarmine went on a 16-2 run ending with a deep three from Wendell Davis, which tied the game at 51 and sent it to overtime.
“You know you’re in for a dog-fight anytime you play Bellarmine,” said South Kitsap head coach Brian Cox.
The Wolves trailed by three late in the first overtime session. A loss after leading by 16 points at the half and 11 after three quarters would have been devastating for a team in the midst of a playoff chase.
On one of their final possessions, Segerman finally got loose for an open shot from beyond the arc. Falling away at the left wing, the 6-foot-6 forward let it fly with authority and the ball hit nothing but net. The game was tied at 56, sending the game on to a second overtime.
Segerman finished the game with 16 points and was 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.
“I love the way Brayden is playing right now,” Cox said. “He’s really a tough matchup.”
Morkert was fouled on South Kitsap’s opening possession in the second overtime and stepped up to sink his two free throws. With the game tied at 58, South Kitsap picked up a loose ball and went on the fastbreak. Eli Mackie hit Morkert in perfect stride and there was no stopping him as he charged toward the basket for a layup.
Morkert scored again to increase the Wolves’ lead to four on a pretty sky-hook from close range. It wasn’t over yet, though. Davis hit another deep three for Bellarmine to pull his team within one with 15.8 seconds to go.
On the next possession, the Lions had to foul and sent Morkert to the line for a 1-and-1. Morkert hit the first, then the second. There was little time left for Bellarmine to heave up a prayer and South Kitsap stormed the court to celebrate.
With consecutive wins over Emerald Ridge and now Bellarmine Prep, the Wolves now have a two-game cushion between themselves and seventh-place Curtis. The top three teams are starting to pull away in the South Puget Sound League, but the remainder of the six playoff spots remain up for grabs.
“That’s the first time we’ve won back-to-back games, and that’s our first road win of the year,” Cox said. “So I feel like we’re trending in the right direction at the right time.”
South Kitsap is off until next Tuesday, when they have two huge games with playoff implications on back-to-back nights starting with an away game at Curtis and then a home game against Graham-Kapowsin.
South Kitsap 64, Bellarmine Prep 61 (2 OT)
SK 13 19 11 8 5 8 — 64
BP 9 9 14 19 5 5 — 61
South Kitsap (64) — Morkert 25, Segerman 16, Mackie 9, Harvey 4, Kelso 4, Coleman 2, Kees 2, Walters 2.