Sparts cool under fire in win

"On the heels of two blowouts, Tuesday's game against Port Angeles supplied the girls' basketball team with its first real test since losing Alexis Kimball to a season-ending knee injury.The Spartans built a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter, lost all but three points of it, then sank nine free throws in the final minute to win 55-44 and hand the Riders their first defeat of the season.It was just a great game, coach Penny Gienger said. I was impressed with how well the girls carried out our game plan - denying threes and working hard on defense.I was also pleased that we didn't panic when they got to within three points, Gienger said. We went back to basics and showed our toughness and reacted well to some new looks they were showing us.The game started slowly, with the Spartans using their superior height to score five close-in hoops and take a 10-7 first-quarter lead. Of equal importance, they dominated the boards, allowing the Riders just a single shot on each possession.Courtney Kimball's putback, Fab Rezayat's 20-foot jumper and her feed moments later to Lee Maloney for an easy hoop broke open a one-point game midway through the second quarter. Laura Hornung scored two late putbacks to open a 24-16 halftime edge.Emily Pierce's layin opened up the game's largest lead, 34-20, halfway through the third quarter. But the Spartans scored just two points the rest of the quarter as Port Angeles began shooting better and forced several turnovers to trail just 36-33 at the buzzer and put the pressure on the Spartans.But Pierce and freshman Alice Russell asserted themselves in the fourth, Pierce scoring six and Russell four to give some breathing room, 46-36 with 2:09. After a Port Angeles trey narrowed the margin to 46-39 at 1:19, a key play occurred when the Riders committed a foul moments before backcourt defensive pressure would have forced a 10-second violation. Three more desperate fouls later, the game clock was just under a minute and the Spartans were in the first of what would be five one-and-one situations. Rezayat sank two, then Pierce, then Russell, Rezayat again, before Pierce notched the final point of the night. Pierce had a game-high 19 points with Russell chipping in 12. Each had eight rebounds with Kimball adding seven as the Spartans dominated the boards, 34 to 17. Russell shot five of six from the field and Hornung four of six as the team had a collective 22 of 48 for 46 percent.With her team now 3-0 in Olympic League play, Gienger expressed confidence.There may be some tough games ahead, especially when we go back to PA, she said, but if we play hard, we'll be hard to beat.The team travels to Port Townsend tonight after last night's home game against Bremerton.Bainbridge JVs 42, Port Angeles JVs 41 - A miracle finish in regulation led to a sweat-it-out overtime triumph. The Riders appeared to have sealed a victory on a short jumper with 18 seconds left to take a five-point lead. But Tasha Francis sank a three-pointer with 4.6 seconds left. After a timeout, Port Angeles' inbounds play became a scramble that resulted in their losing the ball out of bounds with 2.4 seconds remaining. Francis took nearly all of that time to work her way to the hoop for a left-handed layin that knotted the score at 35 as time expired.Francis drained another trey late in overtime to put the Spartans up 40-39. Tiana Gallagher promptly stole the ball at midcourt and put in a breakaway layin to make the score 42-39. The Riders sank two free throws with 16.7 seconds left to pull within one and the Spartans lost the ball on the inbounds play. But a traveling call against Port Angeles with less than 10 seconds remaining gave Bainbridge the ball and the Spartans ran out the clock.At my level, this kind of game doesn't happen very often, coach Korry Beemer said. Port Angeles was taller, bigger and faster than we were. We won on heart and hustle. And I think it got the varsity excited too.Francis had a team-high 15 points. "

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