One team built a lead, then kept on building; another did the same, then nearly got caught admiring its work. Both teams advanced to the...
TACOMA — One team built a lead, then kept on building; another did the same, then nearly got caught admiring its work.
Both teams advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 4A boys basketball state tournament at the Tacoma Dome yesterday, but it was how top-ranked South Kitsap and second-ranked Bethel got there that had people talking.
The Wolves (25-1) from Port Orchard made a bold statement with a 64-48 humiliation of fifth-ranked Roosevelt, while the Braves (25-2) from Graham offered something far less certain in a herky-jerky 58-53 victory over Gonzaga Prep of Spokane.
The twin victories kept alive the possibility of a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in Saturday night’s title game, but also indicated that this tournament remains a wide-open affair.
Of the favorites, South Kitsap took the floor first yesterday, prevailing in the most anticipated first-round matchup and advancing to today’s all-Narrows League Bridge Division quarterfinal against North Kitsap (18-9) of Poulsbo at 5 p.m.
The Wolves are 2-0 against the Vikings this season with both wins by double-digits.
“Roosevelt, they’re a great team,” said South Kitsap coach John Callaghan. “We knew we were going to have to play well today, and we played pretty well.”
Did they ever. The Wolves used a diamond-and-one defense to hold Arizona-bound forward Marcus Williams to a season-low 10 points, then pulled away with a 15-0 run that bridged the intermission to beat the Roughriders for the third time this season.
South Kitsap shot 54 percent from the field (23 of 43), made all 15 of its free-throw attempts and led by as many as 22 points in the second half.
Afterward, Callaghan called this year’s team the tightest-knit of the five he has taken to the state tournament since the 2000-01 season. That includes last year’s squad that finished second to Kentwood.
“Every one of those guys is talented. They might not be superstars, but they’re hard-working, talented basketball players,” Callaghan said. “These guys, as far as team chemistry, yeah, it’s as good as we’ve had.”
“They’re like the Detroit Pistons,” said Roosevelt senior David Grant, who led his team with 22 points and nine rebounds. “They all know their roles. Everyone does a certain thing really well.”
Roosevelt’s two big scorers, Williams and Chris Chase, both struggled in the program’s first state-tournament game since 1987. The two combined for 12 points on 4-of-18 shooting. Neither finished the game. Chase, who averages 15 points, left after injuring his left, shooting hand late in the third quarter. Williams, who averages 29 points, sat the bench for the final 4:14.
“I just went with the guys that I thought could give us a chance to win,” explained Roosevelt coach Bart Brandenburg. “He (Williams) didn’t have a blow all game.”
Williams said: “I was frustrated. I didn’t have a lot to say at that point. I was coming into my last games. That’s not how I really want to go out.”
While South Kitsap buried the Roughriders, Bethel had trouble finishing off Gonzaga Prep.
The Braves looked unstoppable in the first half, shooting 64 percent (14 of 22) and racing to a 42-22 halftime lead. As it turned out, they needed every bit of that advantage.
When the teams returned for the second half, Bethel’s first-half form was nowhere to be found. The Braves slumped to 24 percent shooting (4 of 17) from the field and 54 percent from the foul line (7 of 13), scoring just four points in the third quarter, 16 in the second half.
“Two different teams,” Bethel coach Pat Mullen said. “We just lost our focus. We talked about staying consistent and being consistent. And we weren’t consistent.”
The Braves bailed themselves out from the free-throw line, going 4 of 6 in the final 28 seconds after seeing their lead trimmed to 54-51. They advanced to tonight’s quarterfinal against Snohomish (19-6) at 7 p.m.
The Panthers, led by Jon Brockman’s 22 points and 19 rebounds, impressed with a 71-55 first-round victory over 10th-ranked Evergreen of Vancouver.
Today’s other quarterfinal games pit third-ranked, and defending state champion, Kentwood (22-5) against No. 7 Eisenhower (24-3) of Yakima at 3:30 p.m., and No. 9 Mountlake Terrace (20-5) against Curtis at 8:30 p.m.
Matt Peterson: 206-515-5536 or firstname.lastname@example.org