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So far, so good for Bowden
Darren Bowden wants his team to play like they’re losing, even in the midst of a 25-point lead.
The new Bremerton High School boys basketball coach, who started the season 2-0, used a lesson learned from its 69-67 season-opening comeback victory against Central Kitsap High School. The Knights intensified their defense efforts to erase a 12-point deficit in the last four minutes to beat the Cougars.
“We don’t want guys to get complacent, settle down or play softer,” Bowden said. “I think they responded very well.”
When Bremerton returned Tuesday night against North Kitsap High School, Bowden told his team to compete as if it was the final seconds against Central Kitsap all over again.
The players’ response to Bowden’s message was a 68-43 win Tuesday night against North Kitsap in the first Olympic League game of the year.
“Playing like they’re down 12 will force them to get the mentality of making sure they go hard all the time, no matter what,” Bowden said.
Senior Virgo Banks finished with eight points, the sign of an off-night, he said.
It’s not always easy to stay alert when the scoreboard reads a double-digit lead for three straight quarters.
“It’s kind of hard, but you’ve just got to put it in your head that you’re down,” Virgo said.
Senior Andre Coleman led Bremerton with 21 points against the Vikings. Coleman said the win against Central Kitsap was one of the biggest of his prep career. He said the team’s defense is improving as a result of the “play-like-you’re-down” mentality.
“Our defense really improved tonight,” Coleman said Tuesday. “We just came out on our toes, put pressure on their guards and forced turnovers.”
North Kitsap was held to nine points in the first quarter and never recovered from Bremerton’s early lead. The Knights entered halftime with a 33-20 advantage, but Bowden didn’t want his team to let up. Bremerton continued playing with an up-tempo, fast-paced offense in the second half to beat North Kitsap with speed.
“We need to start putting these guys away, and learn how to put people down while they’re down,” Bowden said. “You can’t give North Kitsap an inch, because if you do, they’ll take a mile.”
Coleman said the win was a strong indicator that the team is avoiding complacency. He also wanted to use Tuesday’s win as a message to the rest of the league.
“We wanted to get a big lead tonight and keep it,” he added. “We want to send a message, and let other teams know we’re back, and they shouldn’t take us lightly.”
Bowden said his team is off to a good start, but there’s not much time to celebrate Tuesday’s win. The North Kitsap game was the first of four games in a seven-day stretch, which includes games against Klahowya Secondary School, Mount Tahoma and Sequim high schools.
The first week of the Olympic League season will be tough for Bremerton because of the number of games, but the rest of the league is in the same position, Bowden said.
“Anytime you have three games in a week, that’s always a tough thing to do,” he added. “We’re just going to have to bear down and we have to play through it.”