Living the dream

BELLEVUE – The scream echoed across the nearly empty gym from the hallway.

But it was a yell of elation as the Bainbridge girls basketball team celebrated their victory – loudly.

“We were screaming really hard in the locker room and jumping around,” Brittany Gray said. “We scared one of our coaches because we were screaming so loud.”

The Spartans took control from the get-go as Anna Wood scored 14 of her 17 points in the first half and Bainbridge defeated Nathan Hale 62-40 in a 3A Sea-King District 2 loser-out game Thursday night at Bellevue Community College.

Bainbridge got there thanks to a 62-46 loss at the hands of Seattle Prep Tuesday.

The win earns the team a trip to the state tournament, its first since the 2004 team took fourth.

It’s also the seventh time head coach Penny Gienger has taken a team to state in her tenure at Bainbridge.

“It’s pretty awesome,” she said.

Her players concurred.

“It feels really great,” Gray said. “I’m really excited. I’ve been smiling since right after the game.

“We had to make it interesting like we always do, but we pulled it together,” Emily Farrar said. “That’s all I care about. We’re going.”

Against Nathan Hale, Bainbridge got hot early while keeping the Raiders from getting any consistency on offense.

Nathan Hale shot just 20.8 percent for the first half.

Wood was the catalyst in the first quarter, scoring 10 points.

Six of them came when she scored and was fouled, allowing her to convert at the line.

“Anna’s just awesome,” Gienger said. “She’s 5-9 and she’s in there with the big girls. She does a lot for this team and she’s made a big difference.

“Her and Brit together have made some really nice plays,” she continued. “They compliment each other a lot.”

Gray followed suit with 11 points in the first half, along with grabbing several rebounds and making a nice pass to Mallory Farrar on the backdoor play for a score.

Emily had seven points in the second quarter, including a three and a layup off a steal.

Kirsten Michael put the Spartans up by 23 at the break with a steal and a layin of her own.

“We played very good basketball in the first half,” Gienger said. “We concentrated, we found the open person, we played good defense. We shut them down.”

But in the third quarter, the Raiders came out aggressive with the full court trap to pressure the Spartans into turnovers.

They succeeded in forcing Bainbridge to shoot just 3 for 13 from the field in the quarter, yet they still couldn’t get the lead down past 18.

“We got hesitant,” Gienger said of playing against the Hale defense. “We knew what to do and when we did, we got layups.

“It was a matter of whether we want to be aggressive or passive and when we’re passive, we turn the ball over.”

In the fourth quarter, Sascha Burton converted on a three point play to cut the lead to 16, then later she scored inside to take it down to 13.

But that was as close as they got, as the Raiders struggled with their foul shots and just missed creating several more turnovers.

Meanwhile, Bainbridge got four points from Jesse Vincent and Gray, who scored off a free throw miss from Michael when the Raiders got confused on the one-and-one.

Callie Maw scored four points late, but that was it for the Raiders as Gray split her free throws, but Wood scored when Vincent grabbed the rebound and missed, with Gray hustling to grab the loose ball and make the pass.

Emily said they’ve gotten better over the season in those types of pressure situations.

“That’s one of our strengths,” she said. “Other teams might get flustered and we might for a possession or two but we don’t freak out.

“We’re very good at staying calm and composed,” Emily continued. “That’s how we beat Newport, that’s how we beat Lakeside. When stuff gets tight, we just know what to do.”

Against Seattle Prep, the Spartans scored just four points in the first quarter, putting them behind the eight ball for the rest of the game.

Wood scored the first bucket of the game but she was the only Spartan what scored, splitting her foul shots two different times.

Meanwhile, Kelsey Blais and Brittany McMillian connected on three pointers to put Prep in the driver’s seat.

“It was really physical,” Emily said of the Prep game. “They were bringing in fresh bodies every 30 seconds.”

Monica Salazar kept things rolling with two straight threes in the second quarter to increase the lead to 20-6 before Farrar sank a three ball and Wood converted on a three point play.

The Panthers increased their lead to 15 before the Spartans went on a 13-5 run to cut the lead to seven.

Michael connected on a three pointer that was counted when a foul off the ball was called, while Wood and Gray both converted on three point plays.

But Lindsey Brown scored four points to end the quarter.

Bainbridge tried to keep it close, but Salazar hit another three, then Wood was called for a technical after Michael was whistled for a foul.

Lindsey Gummersall connected on all four foul shots, then McMillian scored inside to effectively end the game.

“We didn’t anticipate them shooting as well from the outside as they did,” Emily said. “That threw us off, because they were terrible from outside when they played us (at home).

“We gave them that and they nailed us.”

With the win, Bainbridge takes on Lakeside Saturday at 4:45 p.m. to determine the third and fourth seeds out of District 2.

The 3A state tournament is March 5-8 on the UW campus.

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