Sweet? No, but Knights gut one out in first hoops game

ISSAQUAH — The Seattle Times showed up here Tuesday night to see if the Bremerton Knights, featuring 15-year-old sensation Marvin Williams, would live up to their preseason hype.

Everybody else, it seemed, showed up to buy Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

The doughnuts have gained cult popularity in our region since a franchise opened in Issaquah. An hour before the Knights tipped it off, Bremerton fans were among those waiting in the drive-through lane at the doughnut shop.

After watching the Knights, one had to wonder if they didn’t cram a few of the rich pastries down their gullets before taking the floor for their season opener. Bremerton played like it was on a sugar-high. They averaged nearly a turnover a minute for the first three quarters before calming down.

The calming factor turned out to be Williams, a smooth, poised 6-foot-7 sophomore. Williams (18 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks) was as good as advertised in Bremerton’s 71-63 win over an Issaquah club that’s ranked among the state’s top 3A teams.

“I had never seen him play, but I’d heard about him,” Issaquah coach Jeff Patrick said of Williams. “He’s an unbelievable talent. His poise as a sophomore on the road, that shows so much. He’s got such long arms and he’s so athletic. I couldn’t believe some of the balls he got to.”

College recruiters can’t talk to Williams until his junior year, but that’s not going to stop them from coming to his games. Oregon State assistant Scott Didrikson was among the spectators in Issaquah Tuesday night.

The easy-going Williams was happy to get a win in his varsity-debut.

“They were a strong team, man,” Williams said. “Our team played hard. At times we didn’t play too smart, me included, but we played hard.”

That was illustrated best on the boards, where Bremerton out-rebounded the Indians, 44-23.

Williams, like the rest of his teammates, did get caught up in some helter-skelter basketball.

“Distributing the basketball when you’re going a hundred miles an hour isn’t an easy thing to do,” Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg said. “We needed to slow it down at times. We’ll get there. Our kids are hard workers and they’re intelligent.

“As a team in general, I felt we kind of gutted one out.”

Bremerton was back in action Friday, Nov. 30, taking on Eastlake in Bellevue. The Knights host Capital on Wednesday, Dec. 5 and are at Bellarmine on Friday, Dec. 7.

The Knights ran a “doughnut” offense most of the first half against Issaquah. It consisted of five players spread out around the perimeter with nobody in the middle. They forced passes at an alarming rate.

Bremerton, guilty of 15 first-half turnovers, had three turnovers and an offensive foul in its first four possessions of the third quarter. It was ugly. With Williams on the bench with three fouls, the Knights fell behind 48-39.

Williams returned to the floor and sparked an 18-8 run that gave the Knights a 57-56 lead with 4:30 left.

Kellen Alley put the Knights ahead for good at 61-59 with 2:48 left, his transition layup set up by Williams’ rejection of an Issaquah shot. Williams followed with a breakaway dunk 15 seconds later.

Bremerton’s Michael Stitt made 4 of 6 free throws in the final minute, and Williams thundered home a resounding dunk, following an Alley miss, to seal it.

Hans Gasser, a 6-10 junior, led Issaquah with 19 points. Guard Garrison Carr, an impressive 5-5 freshman, added 18.

Williams scored 10 of his 18 points in the final 10 minutes for Bremerton. Alley scored eight of his 10 in the final quarter as the Knights finally discovered some patience, working the ball inside.

“It was ugly, but like coach says, ‘Good teams win ugly if you have to,’” said Alley.

Stitt didn’t have one of his better floor games, but contributed 14 points. Explosive reserves Tieba Bropleh (12 points) and Anthony Ragsdale (6 points) gave the Knights a big lift. Joe Bollinger pounded the boards, finishing with 10 rebounds and seven points.

Bremerton sophomore James Bailey, an impact-type player, is currently academically ineligible.

Did the Knights live up to the hype?

“A good basketball team like Bremerton always answers a run with a run of their own,” Issaquah’s Patrick said. “That’s what they did. We were going along pretty good. They called a good timeout, then came out with a run and sustained it at the end. How many turnovers did they have? Wow, 25. That’s a lot to overcome on a hostile floor. You’ve got to give them credit.”

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