Darren Bowden is Bremerton’s boys basketball coach, but he is about as familiar with Ryley Callaghan’s capabilities as anyone.
That does not mean the Knights could contain him.
Callaghan scored a game-high 30 points to lead the Wolves to an 82-66 win Monday night in the season-opener for both schools.
“I said watch out for all of those banana peels that I taped all over the floor,” said Bowden, reflecting on a pregame conversation with Callaghan. “He just laughed.
“Ryley’s got it all. He can stroke it. He can handle the ball. He’s a kid who we tried to help contain and just weren’t able to do it. I’m glad he’s not in the Olympic League.”
Callaghan, a junior, had his career-best scoring output despite playing with a cast on his left wrist, which he fractured earlier this month when he landed on it during an AAU contest after being pushed.
“The wrist felt good,” said Callaghan, who is right-handed. “I got the green light [to shoot].”
But it was not Callaghan or his classmate, Caulin Bakalarski, that had the greatest impact early. That was Bremerton wing Deonti Dixon, who scored 16 of his 20 points during the first half.
The Knights took a 5-0 lead and held a 20-19 edge entering the second quarter.
“We had a little bit of the jitters, maybe,” South coach John Callaghan said.
It did not last for long.
Bremerton did not score again until wing Andrew Shadle converted a pair of free throws with 4:41 left in the second quarter. By then, the Wolves held a 26-22 advantage — a lead they would not relinquish.
“We didn’t stay focused on what we’re supposed to do,” said Bowden, a longtime South assistant who became Bremerton’s coach in 2010. “You have to get through adversity when the ball’s not bouncing your way and shots aren’t falling. We kind of became sluggish after that. We just have to maintain our composure and keep going.”
Much of that can be attributed to the growth of Callaghan and Bakalarski, who scored 21 points, from their first season on varsity.
“Ryley and Caulin — they’ve been playing pretty well all summer and fall,” the elder Callaghan said. “They’ve been putting in the work and I’m glad to see it paying off.”
South took a 43-28 lead into the second half and increased that advantage to as much as 25 points during the third period. But with Shadle and guard Michael Lawrence, each of whom scored 10 points, contributing, the Knights refused to be blown out.
Bremerton pulled as close as 65-55 before Lawrence fouled guard Tom Simpson on a layup with 5:32 left. But Lawrence argued the call and was assessed a technical foul. Simpson made his free throw to complete the three-point play and then Callaghan connected on both technical foul shots from the charity stripe. In addition, the Wolves were awarded possession and Bakalarski hit a jumper to extend their advantage to 72-55.
“You don’t argue calls,” Bowden said. “Nothing can change. It was a total momentum swing. It just killed us.”
While the Knights have a quick turnaround — they face Wednesday at Central Kitsap and then open Class 2A Olympic League on Friday at Kingston — the Wolves do not compete again until Saturday against Rogers in the Auburn Invitational.
Despite the margin of victory, the elder Callaghan sees areas for improvement.
“We’ve got to do a better job of blocking out,” he said. “But we’ve only had 11 practices. We haven’t even gotten everything in.”
At South Kitsap 82, Bremerton 66
Bremerton 20 8 19 19 — 66
South Kitsap 19 24 20 19 — 82
Bremerton-Nick Torres 3, Andrew Shadle 10, Danny Broussard 2, Casey Winderl 2, Tarez Mason 8, Michael Lawrence 10, Deonti Dixon 20, Wayne Ayers 2, Austin Garrett 3, Terrick Sims 1, Shaq Jones 5.
South Kitsap-Quincy Benavidez 3, Ryley Callaghan 30, Caulin Bakalarski 21, Logan Knowles 0, Tom Simpson 9, Devon Newquist 5, Nic Stoner 0, PJ Johnson 6, Xavier Wells 0, Nick Mishko 2, Forest Bingham 0, James Hyson 4, Josh Osinski 2.