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Back on track, Bremerton boys basketball eyes payback
The Bremerton High School boys basketball team huddled inside the locker room, fists raised high, heads held together.
“One, two, three ... Welcome back, Chuck!”
And welcome back to first place in the Olympic League, Bremerton.
It was a fitting post-game cheer for the Knights, who broke a two-game losing streak Tuesday with a 71-54 victory over Port Angeles High School at home behind an 18-point effort from senior guard Charles Wilson.
“We came back and did what we needed to do,” Wilson said. “My personal goal was to play hard and play smart, and I did it and we got a win.”
After two consecutive losses by a combined four points — 71-70 to Sequim High School Jan. 12 and 73-70 to Kingston High School Jan. 15 — Bremerton rediscovered the style of play that helped it win its first six league games.
The first-place Knights (7-4 overall, 7-2 league) ratcheted up the full-court press against Port Angeles, particularly in the second half, outscoring the Roughriders 17-8 in the fourth quarter to break open what had been a close game.
Playing solid defense, coach Casey Lindberg said, has been — and will continue to be — the key to the Knights’ success.
“The last couple of games our kids have not been real focused on playing defense,” Lindberg said. “We did a really good job of it in the first quarter and the majority of the third and in the fourth.”
Lindberg told his team to enjoy the victory, Bremerton’s second in as many tries against the Roughriders this season, but also to get ready for a physical game against Sequim Friday.
The Wolves (6-6, 6-3) outmuscled Bremerton in the teams’ first match this season, breaking the Knights’ six-game league winning streak. The loss made for a long, dark bus ride home and erased Bremerton’s chances of going undefeated in the Olympic League.
Perfection is impossible, but retribution isn’t.
“The two losses did bump us off track for a little bit, but we came back and got focused again, back on track, and now we’re looking for Sequim,” Wilson said. “We’re very confident about that, to run them down to the ground, to stomp them.”
Bremerton has played its past two games at home, and two of its next three also are at Les Eathorne Gymnasium and Ken Wills Court.
It’s a pivotal stretch because the team finishes the season with three straight road games, including a season finale against Kingston that could determine the overall league title.
But until then, the team is focusing on its next opponent.
“Our kids know that you just have to play them one at a time,” Lindberg said. “Whoever is in front of you, you’ve got to do your best to beat them.”
Tuesday’s victory put the Knights at 4-0 against Class 3A teams in the combined 3A/2A Olympic League, meaning they are two games ahead of the second-place 3A team, Port Angeles, who is 2-2 against 3A competition.
With a two-game cushion over the Roughriders, coupled with the head-to-head tiebreaker, Bremerton is now in a position to win the 3A crown and advance to the playoffs for the second time in as many seasons.
The team hasn’t won the league title since 1999, Lindberg’s first season at the helm, when the Knights reached the state tournament and placed fifth.
“I love it. I’ve always wanted to make state, and with the team we have this year, I think it’s possible,” senior guard Terrick McGhee said. “We just gotta keep our heads up and keep winning.”
McGhee scored 10 points and was one of four Knights to reach double figures, joining Wilson, senior Jarell Flora (22) and junior Andre Coleman (17).
He, too, is primed for payback against Sequim.
“Oh, man, they got something coming for them,” he said.