Sports

SK Wolves fourth-quarter free throws beat Knights

PORT ORCHARD — The hype lived up to its billing.

In front of a packed South Kitsap High School gym, the SK boys basketball team recovered from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to bounce the Bremerton Knights 64-60 in the teams’ Narrows League Bridge Division opener on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Bremerton fell to 2-4 overall heading into its non-conference game at home against North Mason on Friday, Dec. 14.

SK carried a 4-0 record into its game at North Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 14.

SK, led by Tyler Mayfield, nailed 20-of-24 free throws in the fourth quarter. Mayfield hit 8-of-10 from the line before suffering a cut above his right eye after running into a Kellen Alley screen.

Mayfield missed the final three minutes but led all scorers with 18 points.

Tremaine Curry, Brian Cox, and Jason Boyd were equally effective at the free throw shooting 100 percent (6-6) down the stretch.

Bremerton led the game from the end of the first quarter until the 2:21 mark of the fourth quarter when Cox tied the game at 56-56 on a three-point bucket deep from the right corner.

Curry gave SK its first lead since the first quarter with a pair of free throws, but Bremerton guard Zack Otis countered with a three-pointer to give Bremerton a 59-58 lead.

SK regained the lead on a Jake Beitinger layup with 1:17 left.

On Bremerton’s next possession, Alley had his turnaround jumper blocked but Otis snagged the loose ball and had an open look from beyond the three-pont arc.

But as Otis went up to shoot, the ball slipped out of his hands and Cox recovered the ball and drew a foul.

His two free throws pushed SK’s lead to 62-59 with 20 seconds left.

On the ensuing possession, Bremerton’s Michael Stitt got open and drew a foul with nine seconds remaining.

He hit one of two free throws to cut SK’s lead to 62-60.

Bremerton fouled Boyd with six seconds left and he calmly hit both free throws to secure the four-point win.

Alley (no points) and sophomore phenom Marvin Williams (six points) were non-factors in the game because of early foul trouble. Williams, coming off a monster game (31 points, 16 rebounds, seven blocked shots) in a 70-40 win over Kelso on Monday, Dec. 10, fouled out early in the fourth quarter.

Foul trouble could have been an excuse for Bremerton’s loss, but it held a 35-25 lead at halftime without Alley and Williams for most of the first half.

Otis said the game came down to free throws.

While SK hit 30-of-38 free throws for the game, Bremerton hit just 10-of-19.

“I felt we came out and played really hard,” Otis said. “We just didn’t get to the line as much as we wanted to. They went to the line 24 times and we got to the line two times (in the fourth quarter). That’s a big difference.”

SK coach John Callaghan said the constant trips to the free-throw line was a result of attacking the basket.

“A lot of the fouls we got were going to the hoop whereas in the first half we were fading away and shooting three-pointers,” Callaghan said. “We were fundamentally way better in the second half offensively and defensively.”

Stitt said the loss was a shock to him considering Bremerton’s dominance for the majority of the game.

“We had a lead for most of the second half,” Stitt said. “They played pretty aggressive and worked their way back. Give them a lot of credit. They hit almost all their free throws.”

Because the season is still young Stitt said there’s no reason for his teammates to hang their heads.

“We played hard and can’t really ask much more out of these guys,” Stitt said. “We’ll have another shot at them at our house.”

Otis agreed the season is early, but found no excuse for losing this game.

“There’s still plenty of games left, but this was a big game,” Otis said.

Joe Bolllinger led the Knights with 14 points. Anthony Ragsdale scored 10.

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