Gavin Morkert (2) receives a warm welcome at the bench from Jack Kees (14) shortly after the final buzzer sounded and South Kitsap defeated Rogers 64-52 at the 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Gavin Morkert (2) receives a warm welcome at the bench from Jack Kees (14) shortly after the final buzzer sounded and South Kitsap defeated Rogers 64-52 at the 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

South Kitsap topples Rogers to move within one game of regionals

TACOMA — Kyler Kelso took a long pass from a teammate during the fourth quarter of his team’s district game against Rogers and made a huge statement with a two-handed jam.

Breaking up the court against the press, he grabbed the ball in stride and there was little any Rams player could do to stop him. He took a step, went into the air and threw it down with authority. The dunk gave South Kitsap a 56-44 lead with 2:44 left in the game and there was little doubt from there on about who would be victorious.

The Wolves have occasionally let teams hang around, even in their wins as evidenced by their four overtime victories this season. But they led wire-to-wire in this one and consistently got stops on defense when the Rams threatened to go on a run.

“Most of those games, we’ve let them get back into it when it’s close,” said South Kitsap head coach Brian Cox.

South Kitsap is now one win away from punching its ticket to regionals after a 64-52 victory in its fourth meeting with Rogers this season. The team will face Auburn at 5 p.m. on Monday at Mount Tahoma High School in a winner-to-state, loser-out contest.

Brayden Segerman led the Wolves with a game-high 20 points, and he was a matchup problem for Rogers all night. Segerman was able to consistently back down defenders and get inside for layups. He also went 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.

His second 3-pointer was a big one as he came around the wing to the top of the key and caught and quickly released the ball under pressure. That basket put South Kitsap up by ten, 43-33, in the third quarter.

“It feels good to win,” Segerman said. “It feels good to step up at crunch time.”

But the unsung hero in this game was senior Jonathan Walters, who has occasionally started for the Wolves and is usually the first guy off the bench.

During one of South Kitsap’s few offensive lulls in the second quarter, Walters was the difference as he made tremendous plays around the rim to get himself open for easy layups. Walters also made a few sly passes to help get his teammates open. He finished the game with 15 points.

“He’s such a respectful kid and he’ll run through a brick wall if you ask him to,” Cox said. “So when he gets those opportunities, he’s not afraid.”

The Wolves kept their foot on the gas as the game wore on, continuing to pound the ball inside with Segerman, Kelso and Gavin Morkert.

After a quiet three quarters, Kelso got hot in the fourth, connecting on all four of his field goal attempts.

On the defensive end, South Kitsap kept Rogers star Jace Barrett quiet. Barrett, an ace three-point shooter, sank just one attempt and it came late in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.

“We just had to get out on him and stop him from shooting,” Segerman. “And then [we had to] get rebounds, no second chance points.”

The Wolves were sizzling from the get-go and kept up the intensity right to the end. A 10-for-14 start from the field gave them 23 points in what was likely their best quarter of the year. They followed that up with a solid 24 minutes of basketball and came away with a huge win.

“We played probably our best game of the year,” Cox said.

South Kitsap 64, Rogers 52

RG 12 12 13 15 — 52

SK 23 9 13 19 — 64

Rogers (52) — Barrett 12, Rios 9, Sawyer 7, Turco 7, Johnson 6, Looker 5, Hansen Ni. 3, Iverson 3.

South Kitsap (64) — Segerman 20, Walters 15, Kelso 10, Morkert 9, Mackie 8, Coleman 2.

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