Hoopsters hit with post-holiday blues

It wasn’t quite the Twelfth Day of Christmas but the girls basketball team was in a giving mood on Friday, presenting Holy Names an overtime 71-64 win despite holding an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter.

“This was more of a wake-up call than anything else, I hope,” said coach Penny Gienger. “I feel good about this team. When we play well and hard, we’re tough to beat. We just came out flat and sluggish from the holiday break.

“When we play them next time it’ll be a different outcome.”

A major factor was the Cougars’ half-court trap in the fourth quarter, which produced few turnovers but rattled the Spartans and disrupted their game.

“It bothered us more than it should have,” Gienger conceded. “But we’ll take care of it in practice.”

The rust from nearly two weeks without a game appeared most obvious in rebounding, as the Cougars several times had three and four shots in the opening quarter.

Christine Schwager gave the Spartans their first lead of the game at 9-8 when she sank a trey nearly halfway through the first quarter, then her nifty pass to Natalie Berry – who returned to action after missing several games with an ankle injury – resulted in a three-point play and a 17-12 Spartan lead at the two-minute mark.

But UW-bound Holy Names senior Angie Jones drove the lane at the buzzer to narrow the gap to 19-17.

The Spartans went more than five minutes without a score in the second quarter, but after scoring seven quick points, the Cougars were just as ineffective. Schwager’s layin on a pass from Morgan Zajonc brought the Spartans to within 24-21.

Berry – seemingly the only Spartan to pull down rebounds in the second quarter – sank four free throws in a 30-second span for the team’s only other points as the Cougars held a 27-25 halftime lead.

The Spartans played their best basketball in the third quarter as Zajonc opened the scoring with a trey. Clinging to a 33-31 lead, the Spartans went on a 9-0 run in just over two minutes to open a 42-31 advantage at 3:15. They still led by nine at the buzzer, having outscored Holy Names 21-10.

Zajonc’s free throw at 6:30 restored the 11-point edge at 49-38. But with the Cougars’ half-court trap becoming increasingly effective, the Spartan momentum quickly waned. Holy Names went on a 14-4 run in four minutes to take a 54-53 lead with 1:46 remaining. Jones – a two-time state high jump champion – played a key role, several times blasting around the defense for layins.

Fab Rezayat’s free throw at :56 tied the score, but two Cougar free throws gave them a 56-54 lead with 14 seconds left. Bainbridge called a timeout with 14 seconds left to set up a play, but missed the shot. Though a Cougar grabbed the rebound, she was whistled for traveling with 4.5 seconds left as the large and vocal cadre of Cougar supporters howled in disbelief.

Given new life, the Spartans tied the score as Alice Russell took the inbounds pass and drained a 12-foot jumper with 1.3 seconds left to force overtime.

The Cougars sank three free throws to open the scoring, but Rezayat’s hoop narrowed the margin to 59-58 at 2:10. A Holy Names trey that just dropped in before the 30-second clock expired followed by a steal and two more free throws made the score 64-58 with 1:29 left.

Zajonc made two free throws, then the Spartans stole the inbounds pass and Lee Maloney put down two more free throws. The Cougars couldn’t inbound the ball, turning it over again to Bainbridge.

But as the Spartans tried to maneuver for a tying shot, aggressive Cougar defense resulted in a costly five-second violation. After a Jones free throw, Schwager’s jumper narrowed the margin to a single point.

But the Cougars ran off six more free throws in the final 40 seconds to ice the game.

Zajonc led the team with 21 points, four steals and two blocked shots. Schwager added 13 and Berry 10. Russell finished with seven, Rezayat added five and Courtney Kimball, Haley Wiggins, Tiana Gallagher and Maloney all had two. Berry had a team-high eight boards.

The team plays at Cleveland tonight, then hosts Eastside Catholic on Friday.

“They’re both pretty scrappy,” Gienger noted, “but they should be beatable.”

Holy Names JVs 44, Bainbridge JVs 29 – “You could tell we’d been on a break,” said coach Wendy Clark as her team fell behind 27-10 at the half.

“Adriana Gonzalez-Medina and Michelle Baggett were big sparks off the bench,” Clark added, as the team held the Cougars to a single field goal in the third quarter.

Britt Thomas led the team in scoring with eight points.

Holy Names “C” 53, Bainbridge “C” 12 – “My girls looked like they hadn’t ever seen each other before,” said coach Kelly Beemer as the Cougars shot out to a 34-4 halftime lead.

“A good note was that we had exceptional rebounding from Amanda (Szarzynski), Sarah (Scott) and Grace (Davis).” Scott led the team in scoring with six points.

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