South Kitsap and Auburn played fast, aggressive, attacking basketball from the opening tip of their Class 4A West Central District boys game Wednesday at Auburn High School.
However, an early abundance of turnovers and missed shots depressed the score and kept either teams from getting much separation in the first half.
That changed instantly in the second half, when the Wolves bolted away with a nine-point run and surged to a 66-57 victory over the Trojans.
“A team like us, we play four guards, so we have to hit shots,” South Kitsap coach John Callaghan said. “If we hit shots, we can get on a little run. We hit a couple of (3-pointers). In the first half we were getting to the (basket), but we weren’t finishing. There were probably five lay-ins that we left there. Once we started settling down and hit some shots, things went our way.”
The Wolves trailed 35-34 at halftime. Then they took control with a 21-10 advantage in the third quarter. Thirteen of those third-quarter points came from Caulin Bakalarski, who ended with a game-high 26 points.
JJ Ruffin and Marguise Prater led Auburn with 13 each. Rio Paul nailed back-to-back fourth-quarter 3-pointers, but the Trojans couldn’t mount a serious challenge down the stretch.
“Auburn’s a great team,” Callaghan said. “We did a really good job defensively.”
South Kitsap will go on to meet Bethel, a 72-56 winner over Evergreen of Vancouver, at 6 p.m. Friday at Auburn High School. Auburn faces Evergreen at 6 p.m. Friday at Auburn-Mountainview High School.
“This group of guys, they play hard,” Callaghan said. “If anything else – shots might not fall, things might not go our way – but they just keep playing hard. They battle. I’m just really proud of all our seniors, especially; but all of them. It was fun – the playoffs.”Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808