A disastrous third quarter was all it took for the Olympia Bears to pull away from South Kitsap as the Wolves lost their Dec. 6 home opener 67-38.
The Wolves have been in a state of uncertainty since former head coach Brian Cox announced his retirement in the late stages of the preseason. Cox coached the team from 2019-2022, finishing with a 19-45 overall record, including an abysmal 1-15 2020-21 campaign.
South Kitsap decided to bring in a brand-new face for its next men’s basketball coach in William Smith, who most recently taught and coached middle school basketball at Lighthouse Christian School in Gig Harbor.
While he’s still learning the ropes of the job, Smith said he’s started to identify key leaders to the team moving forward, including senior Tayshawn Haygood and junior Kendryck Miller.
“They’re patient with the ball most of the time,” he said. “They’re just confident in themselves and it shows on the floor and at practice.”
The Wolves’ first chance to play at home was originally scheduled for Nov. 29 versus West Seattle, but that game was put on hold due to snowy conditions. So instead of playing a 3A opponent to start the year, the Wolves were coming off a hard road loss to Rogers and staring down the barrel of a Bears team that finished 3rd in the state tournament last year.
The first quarter started on a back-and-forth trend, with the Wolves keeping close through the first minutes of the game. With just a four-point margin to their advantage, the Bears exploded on offense, ending the first quarter with 28 points compared to just 10 for the Wolves. While the team slightly closed the margin in the second quarter, Smith said his team felt on the losing end throughout the game.
“There’s a lot of moving mechanics with young men, trying to get them motivated academically as well as for games. It’s pretty tough, but I’m working with it,” he said.
The lack of motivation came to a head in the third quarter, when the Wolves failed to score a single field goal. Aside from a pair of made free throws, the Bears controlled every possession, essentially putting any hope of a Wolves comeback in the drain. Smith drew up the team’s shooting struggles to not being prepared for the in-game scenarios.
“We have a whole lot of shooting drills that we go through on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s just getting my team to focus and shoot game-time shots at practice.”
South Kitsap’s offense was crippled by its inability to finish the easy shot, along with a tendency for Miller to call his own number on offense, which did not always lead to a quality look at the hoop. Still, Miller led the team in scoring at the end of the day with 10 points, eight of which came in the first half of play. Haygood finished the night with eight points, followed by juniors David Horton and Tyler Hanson with six apiece.
The Bears, while successful on all parts of the court, saw their biggest success in the paint. South Kitsap was helpless to stop Olympia’s six-foot-five junior Wesley Brewer, who finished the night with 14 points to his name. All but two Olympia players finished with points on the board, once again led by senior Parker Gerrits with 15 points.