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Can Knights turn it around?
Its funny, sometimes, how things turn out.
Lets hit the reverse button and return to the start of the 2001-2002 school year at Bremerton High.
This was the year the football team, which had won five games in its previous seven years, dared to talk about a .500 season.
And this was the year the boys basketball team was going to challenge for a state 4A championship.
Even in early September, basketball talk tended to overshawdow the football season that had yet to begin.
The football team exceeded all expectations, piling up points in exciting fashion and producing its first winning season since 1993. The Knights even challenged for a playoff berth.
Now, lets fast forward to the middle of the basketball season.
Nobodys talking about state championships anymore.
Nobodys talking league championships.
The Knights still have hopes, but whether they admit it or not, theyre on the ropes. Bremerton was 1-3 in the Narrows League and 6-6 overall heading into its game at Olympic on Friday, Jan. 11.
Whod have thought that Bremertons football team would be more competitive and fun to watch than the Knights basketball team?
Its been downright painful at times, but never more than it was on their home court on Wednesday, Jan. 9 against Gig Harbor.
After suffering its first five losses by a combined 16 points, the Knights lost No. 6 by 16 (59-43) and it might as well have been 66.
The football team averaged 32.5 points this fall, and there was a time when it looked like Bremertons hoopsters wouldnt score that many against the Tides.
Michael Stitts 3-pointer at the 3:21 mark of the first quarter cut Gig Harbors lead to 9-7. Noah Garguiles bucket at the 7:22 mark of the fourth quarter made it 42-21.
In between, Bremerton made just 3 of 22 shots from the field, none in the third quarter when it scored just three points, all from the free-throw line.
Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg couldnt fault the Knights effort. Hes right. They played hard. They always do.
Lindberg boiled it down to a simple case of too many missed shots.
Youve just got to smile about it and move on, Lindberg said, pointing out that Bremertons 28 percent shooting (16 of 56) was about as bad as it gets.
With respect to Lindberg and his staff, I dont think its as simple as that. A wise basketball man once told me, Sometimes coaches are so slavish to their statistics, they dont recognize that theres other reasons for not making shots.
If Lindberg and his troops believe they were getting the shots they wanted against the Tides, thats OK. If thats the case, then its pretty easy to see why the Knights arent the basketball team that many of us thought they would be.
It wasnt poor shot selection or selfishness, or anything like that. It was a case of Gig Harbors defense taking the Knights out of whatever offense they were attempting to run.
Veteran Gig Harbor coach Lyle McIntosh said his Tides (10-2) are the best defensive team hes had.
We played with intensity the whole 32 minutes, he said. I dont think Bremerton had many good looks. I thought just about every shot they took was contested.
Bremertons Marvin Williams, a 6-7 sophomore, ended up settling for perimeter jumpers and dribbling into traffic when he tried to go inside.
We wanted to really attack him when he got the basketball, McIntosh said. The further hes away from the basket, the better for us.
Bremerton senior Joe Bollinger nodded his head when asked about Gig Harbors defense.
We werent used to being pushed that far out, Bollinger said.
On offense, the Tides were a model of efficiency. They slowed the pace and hurt the Knights inside with their offensive rebounding.
When the Knights did run, which was rarely, Williams fed Michael Stitt for a couple fastbreak layins. Stitt later returned the favor, feeding Williams for a dunk.
Thats when were at our best, Bollinger said. Weve got to take it at em and control the tempo. They controlled the tempo.
The seasons been frustrating, Bollinger admitted. There had been such high hopes. He thought the Knights would be on top of the standings, not fighting to stay out of the cellar.
Its still early, Lindberg said.
Thats Bremertons new battle cry.
Theres still time, Stitt said. The seasons not halfway over.
Weve got to put this behind us and move on, Bollinger said.
Even McIntosh said it was too soon to count the Knights out.
Theyve got some athletes, he said. Theyll be fine. Casey will get them going.
Theyd better not wait much longer.
Bremerton has eight games left, counting last nights game at Olympic. If they win five, the Knights will finish league 6-6.
That might be good enough to grab the Bridge Divisions fourth and final postseason berth. Then again, it might not.
But at this stage of the season, thats a realistic goal.
Who would have thought back in September, when you could feel the excitement in the hallways at Bremerton High, that the football team would have an easier time getting to .500 than the basketball team?