The South Kitsap Wolves may be establishing themselves as serious contenders in the upcoming West Central District boys basketball tournament.
The Gig Harbor Tides witnessed South Kitsap’s prowess twice this season, and they fell victim to the Wolves’ quick and cohesive lineup last Wednesday.
Point guard Ryley Callaghan led all scorers with 21 points, and the Wolves responded to every punch the Tides threw at them to claim a 57-48 victory in Class 4A Narrows League action at Gig Harbor’s John Gorow Gymnasium.
For the Tides, it was an improvement from the 67-47 defeat the Wolves handed them Jan. 16 in Port Orchard, but it also was another black mark on a disappointing season. At 5-14 overall, 2-9 in league, the Tides will miss the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Gig Harbor assistant coach John Medak indicated the Wolves’ strong play had more to do with the result than anything the Tides did poorly.
“(Coach) John (Callaghan) does a nice job with his kids,” Medak said. “He’s got three or four kids that can score off the bounce, and a couple of those kids are really good 3-point shooters, so it’s almost like, choose your poison.”
Gig Harbor and South Kitsap traded blows in the first half. The Tides’ Carson Gearhart, Kody Davis and Ryan Rychard sank 3-pointers, but Ryley Callaghan, Devon Newquist and Caulin Bakalarki answered with their own bombs for South Kitsap (12-6, 7-3).
The Wolves took a 29-25 lead to the half, and they gradually increased the margin from there. They got some help as Jared Anderson, the Tides’ 6-foot-7 forward, sat on the bench after he picked up his fourth foul midway through the third period.
Anderson’s impact on the game was minimal. He finished with six points, and his absence allowed the Wolves to drive to the basket on several occasions.
“I got stubborn,” Medak said. “I left him in, and I shouldn’t have. That’s on me.”
Two Forest Bingham free throws gave the Wolves a 10-point advantage late in the third, but the Tides weren’t done.
Rychard, who finished with a career-high 13 points, scored two quick buckets in the fourth. Travis Hopkins made two key plays, drawing a charge and then driving the lane for a basket that narrowed the Tides’ deficit to 49-46.
The Wolves had the final answer. They scored the next eight points, and, after they pushed the lead back to double digits, they forced a few turnovers and ran down the clock on every possession.
Bakalarski scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half, and Newquist picked up the slack with eight of his 13 in the second half.
But it was Ryley Callaghan who stole the show for the Wolves, hitting tough shots all over the floor.
“We didn’t help with him too much,” Medak said. “We wanted to actually make him do more off the dribble, but that wasn’t a great plan, as it turned out.”
Gearhart had one of his best performances of the season for the Tides, scoring 20 points. Medak felt the senior did a nice job of teaming with point guard Chad Glover to create chances, but the Tides missed too many layups and short jumpers.
“He sees the floor well, and he has good instincts,” Medak said of Gearhart. “When Carson has the ball in his hands, he has the ability to get it off his hands to people where they can do something with it.”
Rychard also earned praise. The junior has been out for most of the season with a knee injury, but he returned in the last two weeks to provide a spark.
“I thought he did a nice job of giving us a lift off the bench with his scoring,” Medak said, “and I think he’s also going to be a very good defender.”
Coach being investigated
Gig Harbor High School boys basketball coach Craig Brooks has been placed on paid administrative leave while the Peninsula School District investigates parent complaints regarding the basketball program, said Bob Werner, the school’s athletics director.
Assistant coach John Medak served as head coach for last Wednesday’s game against South Kitsap. Werner said he didn’t know how long the district would take to complete its investigation, and the program was prepared to have Medak in the head-coaching role for the remainder of the season. The Tides, who didn’t make the playoffs, finished their season Monday against Central Kitsap.
In early January, the program suspended five players for undisclosed violations during to a trip to Ketchikan, Alaska. The school district didn’t name the players, citing student privacy laws, but their initial eight-game suspensions were consistent with punishments typically given to athletes who violate drug or alcohol clauses in the district’s activities code.
Brooks, who is in his second year as the Tides’ head coach, also is a math teacher at Gig Harbor. Werner said Brooks wouldn’t be teaching until the investigation wrapped up, but the complaints were related to basketball activities, not classroom activities.Sports Editor Neil Pierson can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_neil.