Boys continue late-season hoops skid

"For the second straight game, it was the same story for the Bainbridge High School boys' basketball team.First half, terrific.Second half, THUD.The latter term could also be applied to the Spartans' playoff hopes after their 62-42 thrashing at the hands of the Port Townsend Redskins Tuesday night for the team's fourth Olympic League loss in its last five games.Bainbridge, now under the break-even mark for the first time all year at 9-10, entered Friday night's road tilt at Central Kitsap with a 6-8 league ledger, good (or bad) for sixth place.Only the league's top four teams earn automatic berths to next weekend's West Central District 3A tournament in Tacoma. Bainbridge, two games off the pace behind Bremerton and Sequim, both 8-6, is all but out of contention in that regard.The Spartans' best shot - a longshot at best - is to capture the league's lone 3A berth to the subdistrict postseason bracket. To do so, Bainbridge must have won not only last night's game at CK (3-10) but its regular-season finale tonight at home against North Kitsap - while hoping Sequim, its lone league 3A rival and winners of a 57-55 game against Olympic Tuesday - drops its final two contests.The two teams would finish with the same record - 8-8 - but Bainbridge would get the nod to play a loser-out game next week against a Pierce County League opponent by virtue of its two wins over the Wolves earlier this season.To get there, the Spartans must start out the same way they did against their last two foes, Olympic and Port Townsend, playing virtually even with the tougher counterpart for the first half.Then they must also do the same in the second half. And that, unfortunately, has been the problem.Tuesday night, for example, Bainbridge played some of its best basketball to enter the locker room trailing the superior Redskins just 34-31 after two quarters.After that, however, it was all PT, as the Spartans could manage just 11 points - virtually the same story as the Olympic contest last Friday night, when the Trojans took the lead away from coach Jeff Eller's team with a 29-3 run early in the second half.What happened?Shots clanged off the rim. Passes were picked off by the wrong hands. And, increasingly often, the Spartans found themselves on the wrong end of a fast break.It wasn't a question of working hard, Eller said. We just couldn't finish. The kids were very focused. (We) just couldn't make a play when we needed to make a play.I can't tell you how many layups we missed, how many shots didn't fall.It was another forlorn fizzle to a fantastic start - senior guard Tyler Burkland opened the scoring with a layup off a long and accurate outlet pass and followed with another on a halfcourt toss before starting the break on the other end with a beautiful bounce pass to Nick Thompson. Mike Botefuhr chipped in a three-pointer.In the second half, however, Port Townsend turned up its defensive ferociousness as its players stripped away the ball on two of Bainbridge's first three possessions. Burkland was whistled for a five-second violation when he couldn't find an open player on an inbounds pass. Gabe Griffin was mugged into a turnover on a pass from the low post.Drew Stenesen led Bainbridge with 12 points.Bainbridge girls 44, Port Townsend 35: Kim Beemer scored seven points in her return from an ankle injury as the Spartans (14-6 overall, 12-2 in Olympic League play) held off a late run by the Redskins to win their fourth straight game.Nicole Hebner led the team with 15. Bainbridge, firmly ensconced as the league's No. 2 team and its No. 1 seed to next weekend's West Central District tournament, played Central Kitsap last night and closes season play at North Kitsap in a 7 p.m. contest tonight."

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