There was a period a decade ago when folks wondered if the South Kitsap High School boys basketball team would ever fall from grace in the Narrows League Bay Division.
From 2002-07, the Wolves simply dominated a good league, winning five consecutive divisional titles, and advancing in back-to-back seasons to the Class 4A state semifinals (2004-06).
When the fall came – South Kitsap finished 11-10 and in fourth place in 2007-08 – it stuck around. The Wolves had one winning league season over the next five years.
Well, they appear to be emerging from their slumbering state. Last season they won 16 games, advanced through the West Central District tournament and came within a controversial last-second foul call of upending then-No. 2-ranked Garfield in the regional round before losing in overtime, 74-65.
And now, when South Kitsap coach John Callaghan looks at the makeup of his roster heading into this season, he likes it – so much he thinks if things break right, the Wolves could be as formidable as they were when they won the WCD title in 2005-06.
“This year we have a lot of new pieces. It is a work in progress … but this group, as a whole, is probably a little more talented than last year’s,” Callaghan said. “And their basketball IQ is through the roof.”
What Callaghan does have returning is his starting backcourt – 6-foot-1 point guard Ryley Callaghan (coach’s son) and 6-foot-4 shooting guard Caulin Bakalarski.
“They’ve been playing together since they were in fourth grade,” John Callaghan said. “They work well together. Both those guys, we are hoping they have big years.”
Also AAU backcourt mates from Bremerton-based Total Package, the two seniors are lethal in the Wolves’ dribble-drive offense. Ryley Callaghan, an all-Narrows 4A first-team selection last season, is a crafty ball-handler who always seems to find a comfortable spot on the floor to can an outside shot.
Some coaches think Bakalarski, an all-Narrows second-teamer, is the most talented player in the league. He is a better slasher than shooter, and he really makes things happen around the rim.
CLASS 4A BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW
- 1. Kentridge: Class of area; Chargers have size and Stepney.
- 2. Beamer: Pieces in place to get first SPSL South title.
- 3. South Kitsap: Eyeing first Narrows 4A title since 2007.
- 4. Tahoma: Wooten/Williams punch should equal ‘W’s.
- 5. Federal Way: Still plenty talented, playing harder than ever.
1. Kentridge (11-9)
2. Tahoma (16-8)
3. Kentwood (12-11)
4. Auburn Riverside (4-16)
5. Auburn (16-10)
6. Jefferson (14-12)
7. Mount Rainier (13-11)
8. Kent-Meridian (11-9)
9. Kentlake (0-20)
* 2012-13 records
G Derek Brown 5-10 sr. Auburn Riverside
- Scoring champion (26.4 ppg) put up school record 49 in game last season.
G/F Terence Grady 6-5 sr. Kentwood
- Tireless, selfless – and when it’s going right, it all looks so effortless.
G Jawan Stepney 6-3 sr. Kentridge
- Electrifying playmaker, lives for flashy pass-or-shoot moments in transition.
G Jamil Wilson-Jones 6-2 sr. Mount Rainier
- Lanky left-handed point guard is a wizard with a basketball in his hands.
F Coleman Wooten 6-5 sr. Tahoma
- SPSL North player of year has versatile big man’s game, like the NBA’s Dirk Nowitzki.
Circle the Calendar: Feb. 4, Tahoma at Kentridge, 7:30 p.m.
1. Beamer (18-8)
2. Federal Way (19-5)
3. Curtis (27-2)
4. Bethel (17-10)
5. Puyallup (9-11)
6. Emerald Ridge (13-9)
7. Spanaway Lake (11-9)
8. Rogers (2-18)
9. Graham-Kapowsin (1-19)
* 2012-13 records
F Bogdon Bliznyuk 6-5 sr. Beamer
- Inside-outside beast; when he doesn’t get touches, Titans struggle.
G/F Trey Burch-Manning 6-4 sr. Beamer
- So smooth, and now in his fourth season as a starter for the Titans — he just gets it.
G Marcus Harris 6-3 sr. Emerald Ridge
- Jaguars graduated eight seniors, so they need his scoring every night.
G Malik Montoya 6-2 jr. Federal Way
- Dictates full-court pressure, runs the show on offense as first-year starter.
C James Moore 6-4 sr. Bethel
- Quick and skilled for big man; Braves will trust him to bring ball up floor.
Circle the Calendar: Feb. 6, Federal Way at Beamer, 7 p.m.
1. South Kitsap (16-9)
2. Bellarmine Prep (16-9)
3. Olympia (13-9)
4. Stadium (16-9)
5. Central Kitsap (10-10)
6. Gig Harbor (5-15)
7. Yelm (3-17)
* 2012-13 records
G/F Caulin Bakalarski 6-4 sr. South Kitsap
- Athletic and finds creative ways to get to rim; preseason league MVP.
F Lucious Brown 6-5 sr. Stadium
- Has body to bang inside but skills to handle the ball and shoot from the 3-point line.
G Ryley Callaghan 6-1 sr. South Kitsap
- The more he’s pressured, the better he thrives; crafty son of the coach.
G/F MarKese Jackson 6-3 sr. Bellarmine Prep
- Sixth man a year ago becomes main man now; dangerous in open space.
F/C Austin Murray 6-5 sr. Central Kitsap
- In league devoid of true post players, he might be toughest matchup of all.
Circle the Calendar: Jan. 22, South Kitsap at Bellarmine Prep, 7 p.m.