The Spartans slipped past South Kitsap 62-59 in a seesaw girls basketball battle Friday at Bainbridge High.
Led by senior scorer Grace Kenyon's game-high 31 points, and scrappy 5'4 sophomore guard Paige Brigham's fourth-quarter heroics, the Spartans put a leash on the Wolves in their first home game of the season.
Spartan Coach Nicole Hebner said it was teamwork, and heart, that led to the win.
"We wanted that game so bad. Nobody ever gave up," she said.
"We've been stressing a lot to these girls this year and saying, we just need to come together as a group. And if we play team basketball and we can stick together in crunch time, we're going to be just fine," Hebner said.
"These kids really have a strong bond amongst them," she added. "They're all really, really tight-knit. They love each other; they're like family.
"They trust each other. And you can tell that on the basketball court. That's what won us this basketball game."
Bainbridge led for the first two quarters in the back-and-forth thriller.
The drama deepened as a large Spartans' lead in the first quarter evaporated near the end of the stanza to a one-point, 14-13 edge.
Going into the half, Bainbridge held a tenuous two-point, 26-24 advantage.
The Wolves bit back in the third, however, and went into the fourth-quarter leading 46-41 under the hot shooting hand of Camry Smith.
But Bainbridge wouldn't back down, and Kenyon and Brigham stepped up with big clutch performances.
Brigham cut the South Kitsap lead to 52-50 from the free-throw line with 3:32 left to play, then tied the game at 52-52 at the 2:46 mark.
Brigham wasn't done yet, though.
After South Kitsap knotted the game again, Brigham drove to the basket and split a pack of Wolves in the lane to put Bainbridge in front, 56-54.
Then, on the South Kitsap end, she took a charge to get the ball back to the Spartans with 1:46 to play.
The Wolves clawed back. A shooting foul sent South Kitsap's Shannon Laupola to the line, where she hit both and tied the game 56-56 with 1:19 to play.
Kenyon then broke it open for the Spartans.
Left alone in the corner, she launched a no-hurry three-pointer that nailed the net with 1:02 left and put Bainbridge up, 59-56.
Another whistle sent Laupola to the line again, and the Wolves pulled to within one, 59-58, with 54 seconds left.
The Spartans came up empty on their next possession, but Kenyon collected a crucial rebound on the South Kitsap end. She was subsequently fouled and gave Bainbridge a three-point lead with 10.1 seconds left.
End-of-game fouls sent both teams to the line, with Bainbridge holding on for the 62-59 win.
Brigham, who was making her first start as a varsity player, said didn't doubt that her teammates would find a way to win.
She said she had just one thing in mind.
"Just win. That's all that was going through my mind," Brigham said.
"I could not lose this game and I just put my whole heart out there and hoped for the best."
"I really had no doubt that we were going to win this," she said.
Of course, sinking that shot that tied the game with mere minutes to play might need a mention.
"After that basket, everybody on the team was going crazy, we had the crowd with us, and I think we just knew we were going to win this game," she said.
Coach Hebner said she expected as much from her young guard.
"She's a phenomenal athlete; she plays sports year-round. So when things get tough, there's a kid that you feel comfortable when she's got the ball in her hands," Hebner said. "She's an athlete; she knows what she's doing."
The Spartans had six players in the scoring column.
Kenyon led all scorers with 31. Kenyon had 17 points in the second half, and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Brigham finished with 11 points; seven came in the fourth quarter.
Maddie Ketcheside had eight points for the Spartans. Sydney Severson contributed five points.
Katie Usellis added four points, and Julie Feikes finished with three for Bainbridge.
Camry Smith led the Wolves with 25 points; teammate Kaylee Yergeau added 14 for South Kitsap.