The girls held on for what could be a big win down the road, 46-43, while the boys faced juggernaut Bears in 70-45 loss
PORT ORCHARD — Junior guard Areeza Amian’s final layup was South Kitsap’s biggest as the Wolves held on for a 46-43 win over the Olympia Bears Saturday night.
South coach CJ Scott could very well point to the Dec. 7 game as a critical moment for the Wolves in the South Puget Sound League girls basketball playoff race later in the season.
For now, the Wolves (2-1, 1-1 SPSL) were happy to get the win in a tightly-contested game on their home court.
“We lack experience so games like this are really going to help us down the road,” he said. “They get a little tentative when it gets close at the end but it’s good experience for them.”
Amian finished with 11 points including the game-clinching bucket with 15 seconds left.
Junior forward Denae Hughes, who led with 12 points and nine rebounds, said the Wolves played well but are a young team.
“I think we played really well,” she said, adding the majority of the team has played together since middle school, adding playing a nail-biter was a good test.
So what was Hughes thinking in the final moments?
“Now is not the time to mess up,” she said.
Hughes insisted she’s much more of a defensive-minded player — “Defense is will power type of game and offense is skill,” she said.
“She’s such a good athlete,” Scott said of Hughes, adding when she’s on she’s tough because she can rebound and finish around the basket.
Having a savvy guard like Amian is a blessing for South, but Scott said sometimes she tries to do too much as the team tries to find a lineup that works.
“She’s our rock,” he said.
The Wolves shot off to a quick start and lead 17-6 after one quarter. Olympia came back to cut SK’s lead, 28-20, at halftime. Neither team had much in the way of offense to start the third quarter, which kept the benches on edge. South upped the lead to 30-20 on a bucket by Hughes but Olympia scored to make it a four-point game, 30-26. South came right back and answered, 34-30 on a layup by Alicia Loudermilk inside as SK lead 36-32 at the end of the third.
South held a six-point margin at the start of the fourth, 38-32, but Olympia started to cash in on its possessions and cut the lead to 41-39 on a long 3-pointer by Audrey Lane. Natalie Millet hit a 3 of her own on SK’s next possession with 1:17 to go for a 44-39 edge.
Kylie Waltermeyer drilled a 3 from the top of the key with about 20 seconds left, making it a one-possession game once again, 44-42.
After a timeout, South’s Millet threw an inbounds pass to a running Amain for the winning layup and the defense held the Bears in the waning seconds. Kirstin Prudhomme had five steals for SK along with seven points, Justine Neimann grabbed eight rebounds and Loudermilk finished with nine points.
South’s boys kicked off the doubleheader but couldn’t hang with the strong guard play of the Bears and their 6-10 University of Washington commit Jackson Grant. Grant finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds but it was Kai Johnson who did the most damage for Oly as the senior guard finished with 26 points.
“We go into every game expecting a battle,” South Kitsap coach Brian Cox said. “Those are more fun anyway, but, yes, if there was a preseason poll in our league Oly would be a the top. They are the team to beat in the league.
Both teams played to a 14-14 tie in the first quarter as the Wolves were able to utilize the size of 6-6 junior Brayden Segerman and senior guard Eli Mackie well. The Bears went on a short spurt to end the first half with a 33-23 lead.
It was the third quarter that put Olympia over the top as it pulled ahead 55-28. The Bears outscored South, 22-5.
“Olympia’s a great team and coach John Kiley does a great job and they’re a tough team,” South Kitsap coach Brian Cox said. “They came out with a strong third quarter and that was the difference in the game. Down 10 at half is still well within reach, but give them credit, they executed much better than we did.”
Segarman finished with 12 points and seven rebounds and played at a high level that Cox would like to see continue.
“I do like the way we attacked the hoop and I thought Brayden played a great game,” Cox said, “not only on the offensive end with his attacking mentality to the hoop but I thought he did a good job on (Grant).”