When the Gig Harbor Tides needed a spark Friday night against the visiting Olympia Bears, head coach Billy Landram looked to his bench.
The Bears had outscored the Tides 20-6 in the second quarter, and outside of center Nick Edens, the Tides’ offense was cold.
Enter sophomore forward Sam Gagliardi, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter to give Gig Harbor a seven-point lead, and the Tides went on to a 59-48 Narrows League win.
“It was a huge,” Landram said. “He’s a good, young kid, he’s tough, he had a couple of boards in the first half, and then those threes really helped give us some breathing room up to about 10 points. It was big.”
Gagliardi didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger once he got in.
“I just look for my shot, because I know my teammates will get me the ball in places to score,” he said. “I just wanted to provide a spark off the bench.”
Edens, who finished with 26 points, was the only offense for the Tides in the second quarter. Gagliardi’s threes were imperative to recapturing a balanced scoring attack.
“That was huge for the team, huge for him to get his confidence going, huge for us to get us six points there,” Edens said. “Without that, we might have been in a dogfight. Six points are huge in a time like that. It gives us momentum and everything.”
Gagliardi finished with 10 points, but Edens stole the show. The 6-foot-8 senior showed why he is this team’s most dangerous scorer. He scored from inside, outside, from the line, stepping back, leaning in, left-handed, right-handed, with hooks, jump shots and more.
“He’s a big guy that can go inside or out, which is tough to guard at the high school level,” Landram said.
With his team struggling to generate much offense in the second quarter, Edens took over.
“I knew that someone had to step up, so I said, ‘Hey, why not me?’ ” Edens said. “I had some open shots, and I hit them.”
Gig Harbor (8-7, 5-2 league) looked like a different team in the second half, playing more spirited, tough-nosed basketball.
“We have a level of play that we’re expecting from them,” Landram said. “I thought once we got an early lead, we kind of just didn’t play to that level. We played to the level of the opponent where we were at. We took hard shots, weren’t boxing out, just a lot of the little things that it takes to win at this level, we weren’t doing consistently enough.”
Gagliardi said the team lacked energy. But his 3-point shooting gave the Tides new life, and they coasted from there.
Senior guard Khalil Matheney led Olympia (8-6, 2-5) with 22 points.Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.