The diamond defense has become something of a trademark for John Callaghan’s teams at South Kitsap High School. It is supposed to neutralize a team’s best player and force others to step up.
It’s made for stopping a dynamic guard like Bellarmine Prep’s Malachi Flynn.
Flynn still flashed his range, making three 3-pointers along with some long inside-the-arc jumpers, to score 19 points despite being marked the length of the court for the entire game. But the Lions made just 2 of 13 shots in the fourth quarter, both 3s by Flynn.
That’s when visiting South Kitsap pulled away, turning a tie game at the end of the third into a much-needed 59-52 4A Narrows win Wednesday behind Eric Wattree’s game-high 21 points to hand Bellarmine Prep its fourth consecutive loss.
“I don’t remember Flynn getting in the paint much, but he still got some of his,” Callaghan said. “He’s just so tough. But I think we did a pretty good job on him.”
The diamond is like a box-and-one, but instead of two defenders on the wings and two on the block, it keeps one high, two extended and one in the paint, with the fifth defender picking up, in this case, Flynn.
Aaron Scott and Lucas Knowles split most of the defensive duty on Flynn, who scored a season-high 41 points against Jesuit (Carmichael, California) at the St. Ignatius Sand Dune Classic in San Francisco during winter break. Callaghan said Scott was throwing up at halftime and most of his players had been recovering from illnesses.
That included Daniel Tomkiewicz, who Callaghan said he wasn’t sure was going to play Wednesday. Tomkiewicz didn’t score in the first half, but made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 points.
“Daniel grew up tonight,” Callaghan said, chuckling. “Awesome. Awesome. He’s a talent, man. Hopefully this gives him some confidence.”
Tomkiewicz’s second of back-to-back 3-pointers from the wing put South Kitsap (8-4, 3-3 4A Narrows) ahead 50-44 in the fourth quarter. But Flynn responded with a pair of pull-up 3s of his own.
Flynn was then fouled on a 3-point shot the next possession for the Lions (6-8, 1-5) and made 2 of 3 from the line to tie it at 52.
But Tomkiewicz’s next 3-pointer was the dagger. He hit it the Wolves’ next possession with 2 minutes, 2 seconds left in the game and forced Bellarmine Prep to call timeout. The Lions missed their final four shots of the game.
“We didn’t shoot well and they shot well. That simple,” said Lions coach Bernie Salazar. “Just disappointing. Got to find a way to make it right.”
The Wolves essentially lost by halftime when they were blow out at Bellarmine Prep last year, but then rattled off wins in six of their next seven games.
They’re hoping Wednesday’s win sparks a similar run.
“This was so big for us,” Wattree said. “We hadn’t been finishing games lately and that was a big emphasis for us. Me, Travis (Delgado) and Aaron were talking about it: We have to finish games in the fourth quarter. And we did it today.”