Beemer hobbled as title defense begins

"The Bainbridge High School girls' basketball team is in trouble as it heads into next week's West Central District playoffs.Leading scorer and rebounder Kim Beemer is only playing at about 75 percent capacity after returning for the last three games of the Spartans' regular season this week from a slow-healing ankle injury. Emily Pierce, second on the team in both categories, is suffering from a relapse of the same flu bug that's bit her hard over the past three weeks.And Bainbridge, which closed its regular-season slate last weekend with a 15-6 overall record - and a 13-2 Olympic League mark - staggered to the finish line with a narrow win Saturday over North Kitsap.The Spartans may be in trouble, but in the eyes of coach Penny Gienger, those circumstances only serve to heighten the coming challenges - commencing the Tuesday after next, Feb. 22, at Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland against a yet-to-be-determined Pierce County League opponent.I don't know if we were tired of what, but we played just well enough to win against NK, she said. Other than that, I think we're going to be pretty strong. We're not thinking about last year, or who we're going to play. We're just going to take it one game at a time.The Spartans opened the weekend against Central Kitsap in the final home game of the season for not only the season but for the careers of their four seniors - Beemer, Nicole Hebner, Molly Dolan and Kelsey Evans.The team lived up to the emotion of the night, clobbering the quality 4A Cougars by a 58-38 score. Pierce led the way with 18 points, while Beemer added 10 and the reserves ran away from a once-tight game with a 19-8 fourth quarter.My seniors played great, but this was a whole team effort, Gienger said. In the first half, we panicked about the press (defense). We treated it like an aggressive press, which it wasn't, and threw the ball away too often.But in the second half we settled down, gained more confidence in our ability and took it at them.The Spartans didn't come up with quite the same effort in the season finale against the Vikings, but fortunately they weren't up against quite the same quality of opponent.Bainbridge streaked to a 14-5 lead after one quarter, but thereafter wasn't able to use its height advantage to its fullest advantage. Alexis Kimball led a balanced attack with 12 points, while Pierce added 10, Hebner contributed 10 and Beemer kicked in nine.Bainbridge, which enters district play for the third straight season as the league's No. 1 seed to the district tourney, is anticipating a showdown for the third straight year with White River.The 18-1 Hornets, rated fourth in the latest statewide 3A girls' rankings, return virtually the same team as the one bounced by the Spartans last year en route to a state championship.They're led by junior guard Tricia Hermanson, one of the state's top inside-out threats.That's what most people would say is going to happen, Gienger said of the anticipated district championship match. They'll do the same things they did last year. I think we match up very well against them. We don't match up well against teams like Port Angeles, but this is a team we do.Bainbridge's first-round district opponent will be known after a Saturday playoff game between Washington, the Pierce County League's No. 2 team, and an unknown No. 4 foe.The Tuesday game's tipoff will be at 8:30 p.m."

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