Knights woeful against Wolves

Zack Otis (No. 12) retrieves a loose ball as Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg tries to redirect the Knights’ offense. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Zack Otis (No. 12) retrieves a loose ball as Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg tries to redirect the Knights’ offense.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

The Bremerton High School gym stands were packed with screaming fans who came to see if Marvin Williams could break out of his two-game slump and come alive in the Knights’ Bridge Division opener against South Kitsap.

What they got instead was a brilliant performance from the night’s other star when 6-foot-8 South Kitsap junior blue chip Jacob Beitinger knocked in a game-high 21 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Wolves (1-0 league, 4-0 overall) to a 61-45 win.

Williams managed to avoid the early foul troubles he had in the Knights’ losses to Mt. Tahoma and Lincoln, but the 6-foot-8 junior had a new set of problems when he went 0-for-5 from the floor with 10 rebounds, four assists and four blocks. All six of Williams’ points came at the free throw line and equalled his career low that he coincidentally set last year against South.

“Marvin had an off night tonight,” Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg explained, saying that other teammembers were wide open when the Wolves doubled and tripled up their defense against Williams to keep him from getting any easy buckets.

Williams said his game, which was witnessed by Kansas coach Roy Williams, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar and Washington State coach Paul Graham, is more than just putting points on the scoreboard.

“I’m not about scoring 30 a game,” Williams said. “People think that, but that’s not me. I do what it takes to win. If I have to rebound, I rebound. If I have to block shots, I block shots. That’s what I did. They’re a good team. Our defense was there. But our offense, we just couldn’t get into anything.”

What doesn’t show in the box score is the defensive job SK post Adam Bennett put on Williams.

South coach John Callaghan ran a defense called “diamond-and-one,” which calls for a zone defense from four players while the fifth man plays man.

Besides disrupting the flow of the offense, the defense is designed to shut down a team’s best player — in this case Williams.

Bennett, who scored seven points, along with posts Cody McCulley and Joe Summers, continually forced other Bremerton players into turnovers when they were trying to feed Williams the ball.

Bennett said he couldn’t have defended Williams without the help of his teammates.

“Of course I’m denying the ball, but if (Williams) got by me my teammates were there to help out,” Bennett said.

With the double-team on Williams, Bremerton was forced to use its guards to get points. Jacquan McWhorter’s 12 points and 15 by Zack Otis helped keep the Knights in the game.

One of those teammates who benefited from the diamond-and-one is senior guard Trivone Curry.

Curry was all over the floor defensively, finishing unofficially with seven steals and countless loose ball deflections and tipped balls.

“Yeah, it felt like I had 10 steals tonight,” Curry said. “I felt great out there.”

Curry said SK’s defense is what won the game.

“Oh, definitely,” he said. “Marvin can tear people up, but our defense stopped him this game. That’s what we have to do game after game if we want to be first place in the Narrows League.”

Beitinger struggled in the first quarter, missing his first seven shots.

Both teams went into the locker room at the half with the score knotted at 19 points apiece.

After scoring just three points in the first half, Beitinger erupted with 18 points in the second half as the Knights’ defense collapsed.

Beitinger said it was a matter of having the whole team calm down in order to get into a rhythm offensively.

Several Bremerton players said their intensity began to wane mid-way through the second half as the Wolves began to pull away with the lead. South outscored Bremerton 18-14 in the third and 24-12 in the fourth quarter that was sparked by a 15-1 run.

“To me, we were there the whole first half,” said Bremerton forward Noah Garguile who managed to score a meager five points. “We started to fall in the third quarter. That’s when I first noticed we started not taking care of the ball. We weren’t intense on defense.”

The touted Beitinger continually challenged Williams down low and showed no fear against the equally tall opponent.

“Marvin is a great player, but this summer I played against guys that were bigger than he is,” Beitinger said. “You just learn how to maneuver.”

Lindberg said the Wolves benefitted from having a strong inside presence which out-rebounded his team.

“The reason they beat us is they crashed the offensive boards very well,” he said. “They blocked out. I don’t know how many second chance points we gave them. I believe it was 20 at least.”

Despite the big win, Beitinger said it’s important everyone realize it’s still only December.

“I think this is going to boost our confidence,” he said. “This was our first big game to overcome.”

Callaghan said he’d still like to see his team play more mistake-free.

“We’re still doing crazy things sometimes,” Callaghan said. “But these guys can play. Pendleton won’t seem so far after this win. It’s always nice to get off on the right foot in the beginning of the season.”

— Josh Morton of the Port Orchard Independent contributed to this story.

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