Wolves solid inside and outside this season

With Werder in the post, Callaghan at the point, South Kitsap returns two key ingredients — after that, it gets dicey

At 6-foot-2

At 6-foot-2

SCHEDULE

Date Opponent Time

Dec. 1 at Graham Kapowsin 7 p.m.

Dec. 4 at Shelton 7 p.m.

Dec. 9 Foss 7 p.m.

Dec. 11 Wilson 7 p.m.

Dec. 16 at Gig Harbor 7 p.m.

Dec. 18 Lincoln 7 p.m.

Dec. 19 Lakeside 6 p.m.

Dec. 22 at North Kitsap 7 p.m.

Dec. 30 Roosevelt 6 p.m.

Jan. 2 at Lake Stevens 6 p.m.

Jan. 8 Stadium 7 p.m.

Jan. 13 at Central Kitsap 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 Olympia 7 p.m.

Jan. 20 at Bellarmine Prep 7 p.m.

Jan. 22 Mount Tahoma 7 p.m.

Jan. 26 Shelton 7 p.m.

Jan. 28 at Foss 7 p.m.

Jan. 30 at Wilson 7 p.m.

Feb. 3 Gig Harbor 7 p.m.

Feb. 5 at Lincoln 7 p.m.

Coach: Mark Lutzenhiser, second season (15-13).

Key returners: G Kelsey Callaghan, 5-2, jr.; G Angela Romonsky, 5-5, jr.; F Danielle Stewart, 5-11, sr.; W Molly Werder, 6-2, sr.

Top newcomers: G/W Dana Goularte, 5-10, jr.; G/W Jackie Steiger, 5-8, soph.; F/W Taylor Sunkel, 5-11, soph.

Key departures: G Tori Fairweather, graduated; F Stephanie Osterdahl, graduated; F Angel Sheldon, graduated; F Chelnesha Thuring, graduated.

By CHRIS CHANCELLOR

Sports Editor

South Kitsap’s girls basketball team showed it was capable of transition a year ago.

Now, the Wolves will have to prove it again, for different reasons.

Under new coach Mark Lutzenhiser, South finished with a 15-13 record — its first winning mark since 2004-05 — and advanced to the Class 4A state tournament for the first time in nine years.

While the Wolves will not have to adjust to a new coach again this year, they must replace three of their top four scorers from a year ago. Stephanie Osterdahl (7.1 points per game), Tori Fairweather (5.8) and Angel Sheldon (5.0) all have graduated.

“There’s potentially some skill there,” Lutzenhiser said. “Do they have the heart? Do they have the desire? Are they going to learn? We’re going to be young.”

Junior Kelsey Callaghan said it is crucial for the returning players to accept leadership roles.

“We had so much leadership last year,” she said. “Now that we’re the returners and have that experience, we have to fire up the other girls.”

South returns its leading scorer from a year ago, 6-foot-2 senior Molly Werder. She averaged 10.2 points per game and also led the team in rebounds (6.4) and steals (1.9).

Despite being one of the team’s tallest players, Werder was able to play small forward last year because of an abundance of low-post options. But Osterdahl, Sheldon and Chelnesha Thuring, all of whom were at least 5 foot 11, have graduated.

“We have the ball handling, speed and all that,” Werder said. “It’s just the aggression — playing all out — we need to get.”

Callaghan returns and will start at point guard for a second consecutive year. She averaged a team-high 2.4 assists per game and was fifth in scoring (4.6) despite being the youngest varsity player.

“Kelsey Callaghan did a great job of running the show,” Lutzenhiser said. “People couldn’t press us with her.”

The only other returning player who had varsity experience last year is Danielle Stewart, who averaged 3.2 points per game.

Shooting was an issue for the Wolves last season. Among those who received significant playing time, Werder led South in field-goal (44) and free-throw (62) percentage. The Wolves shot just 34 percent from the field and 49 percent at the line.

That particularly was problematic when South reached state and fell behind Moses Lake 17-2 in the first quarter. The Wolves lost that game 51-38.

Callaghan thinks 5-foot-11 sophomore Taylor Sunkel should help with that.

“She can shoot that corner shot like nobody’s business,” she said.

Another significant newcomer might be sophomore Jackie Steiger. The younger sister of former South baseball standout Brady Steiger likely will be in the rotation and could even start.

“She has very high potential,” Lutzenhiser said. “Most coaches that see her play are amazed.”

Lutzenhiser said Steiger has battled issues with her feet, but is a talented enough ball handler that she might be able to give Callaghan a break at point guard. Romonsky is another player who Lutzenhiser said can handle the ball.

Callaghan said she is excited about that prospect, which she feels will give the Wolves more fastbreak opportunities.

A couple of players from South’s girls soccer team that reached the state playoffs also factor into the rotation. Kelsey Stoner, whose older sister, Ashlee, played for South last season, and Dana Goularte should see significant playing time. Stoner is a guard, while the 5-foot-10 Goularte, who transferred from Tacoma’s Life Christian Academy, could help compensate for some of the low-post players the Wolves graduated.

Werder, who is drawing interest from Alaska Anchorage, Montana Tech, Whitman and California’s Westmont College, is excited to show that South can return to state. The Wolves open Dec. 1 at Graham Kapowsin, a Class 4A South Puget Sound League South Division school.

“We just know what to expect a little bit more,” she said. “We know what we’re working toward and we know it’s not some unreachable goal. We know we can do it.”

In addition to Graham Kapowsin, South plays a nonleague game at Lake Stevens, a 4A Wesco team, and also hosts Lakeside and Roosevelt. None of those teams advanced to state last year, but all have accomplished that within the last two years.

“We want to play competitive games,” Lutzenhiser said. “We actually have quite a few games at home this year, which is nice. It seemed like we spent a third of our season in Auburn last year.”

Callaghan might not mind that.

“Even when I was playing soccer and we were playing Auburn Riverside, I wanted to get them good,” she said. “This is my time for revenge. We can prove ourselves even more.”

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