Sports

Late free throw lifts Spartans over Cougs

Caitlyn Salo goes to the hardwood to maintain possession against Holy Names at Paski Gym Wednesday. Salo hit one of two free throws with four seconds to play, to give the Spartans a 54-53 win over the Cougars. - JIM BRYANT photos
Caitlyn Salo goes to the hardwood to maintain possession against Holy Names at Paski Gym Wednesday. Salo hit one of two free throws with four seconds to play, to give the Spartans a 54-53 win over the Cougars.
— image credit: JIM BRYANT photos

Salo splits a pair with four seconds to go, giving the Sparts a needed home win.

Befitting the plunging thermometer outside, Caitlyn Salo had ice in her veins Wednesday evening.

The Spartan sophomore twined a clutch free-throw with four seconds left in regulation play, giving the Spartans a needed win over Holy Names at Paski Gym.

The victory was sweet reward for a squad that has struggled so far in Metro League play.

“I think the best thing about the game is that the kids got to measure improvement with the win,” assistant coach Terry Lande said after the contest. “We had improved tremendously against a couple of teams, but we’d still lose. It’s nice that the kids were able to improve and then see the results.”

Allie Picha led the Spartans with 20 points, including an 8-for-8 evening at the line. Kaitlin Bailey added 12 points, and Megan Burris and Salo threw in six apiece. Burris pulled down 14 boards.

The win upped the Spartans’ league mark to 3-4 (5-5 overall), while Holy Names fell to 4-3 in Metro competition.

The win capped a close-fought contest that saw each team establish small leads, only to see them whittled away.

Bainbridge opened a five-point margin with 4:31 to play, on a Kaitlin Bailey shot at the rim.

The intensity picked up as the clock wound down; the Cougars used free throws to draw within two points with 1:49 to go, after a furious series of missed shots and offensive rebounds under the glass.

Bailey responded with a pair of free throws at the other end, points immediately matched by the Cougars’ Corrie Burdett.

Salo drove the lane for a bucket and a four-point lead with 51 seconds to play.

Tough inside defense from Spartan center Megan Burris then denied the Cougars, but sent Devin Brooks to the line, and she converted the pair.

Following a timeout, Bainbridge turned the ball over resulting in a layup at the other end and the scoreboard knotted at 53.

That set the stage for Salo’s heroics. Allie Picha brought the ball up the floor on the right side, running into traffic near midcourt; she fed Salo, who was fouled to the line. Her first free throw rimmed out, but she potted the second.

The Spartan press then forced Names into a desperation shot that went astray at the buzzer.

Lande credited the win to more consistent defense, with the Spartans marking Names scorers tight throughout the contest, and improved execution at the offensive end.

The team also reacted better to the ebb and flow of the game, he said, rather than relying on set plays and routines.

“I think we grew up a lot,” Lande said.

Bainbridge traveled to Bishop Blanchet last evening, and heads to South Kitsap for a non-conference tilt against the Wolves on Monday.

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