Home court, sweet home court for Sparts/Spartan girls struggle in win

Chris Kelly scrambles for the loose ball in the Spartans’ 76-63 home win over Clover Park last Friday. - JULIE BUSCH photo
Chris Kelly scrambles for the loose ball in the Spartans’ 76-63 home win over Clover Park last Friday.
— image credit: JULIE BUSCH photo

Both boys and girls teams send the fans home happy after wins over Blanchet.

The Spartan boys basketball team got another standout performance from Steven Gray, but it was their team defense that helped them collect their sixth straight win at home, a 62-49 decision over the Blanchet Braves last Friday.

“Our man defense is tough,” Gray said. “It’s the kind of defense that we need to play every game. We can run zone, but ‘man’ works so much better for us.”

The Spartans got off to a quick start offensively when Theo Miller won the opening tip and batted it to Gray, who found a wide open Chris Kelly streaking to the basket for their first score.

But Blanchet guard Taylor Olson and forward Carter Edwards kept the score close through the first quarter.

After a Olson jumper cut the lead to 20-17 with 6:32 left until halftime, Bainbridge went on a 19-5 run. Kelly, Miller and Gray were the keys to the run.

Gray hit two three-pointers, and Miller completed a three-point play to put the Spartans up by 15 going into halftime.

“There’s two parts to the game that are valuable (to us),” head coach Scott Orness said. “That’s the start of the game and getting a good start, and coming out after halftime. We feel we did well at both those spots.”

In the second half, the Spartans kept the lead in double digits, outscoring the Braves 22-10 in the third quarter while using their defense to keep Blanchet’s Olson from breaking out.

Nick Fling and Caleb Davis did their part, while Kelly used his tenacity to hold the senior guard to 7 of 24 shooting from the field for the game.

Kelly said that was their plan all along.

“Defensively, when we’re working really hard, I think we’re the best team in the state,” he said.

Gray said watching Kelly play helps inspire the team.

“He did a great job on Olson,” he said. “When you see him working hard, it makes you want to work just as hard, if not harder, just so you don’t let him down.”

Gray finished with 31 points and seven assists. Miller had seven points and 14 rebounds.

Bainbridge (5-3, 9-3) played Chief Sealth yesterday. They return home to play West Seattle at 6:15 p.m. Friday.

Spartan girls struggle in win

The Spartan girls basketball team looked good in warmups, appeared focused and even touched head coach Penny Gienger’s necklace with a four-leaf clover charm made by Allie Picha’s mom for good luck.

It’s a good thing they did, because Friday’s 47-37 victory over Bishop Blanchet was a case of a good team having an off night and needing some luck to get by for their 12th win in a row.

The Spartans shot just 36 percent from the field and went cold for several minutes at a time, but the Braves shot just 37 percent and went 9-18 at the line.

Bainbridge shot 90 percent from the charity stripe.

Gienger gave credit to Blanchet coach Terry Wilkinson for making the team play the Braves’ way, not the Spartans’.

“They really, really slowed us down,” she said. “We’re used to playing up and down and they got us into this little (down tempo game). We don’t like playing that pace and our spunk went away, and we don’t know why.”

Picha agreed, saying the team “wasn’t there mentally.”

“(Assistant coach) Terry (Lande) said we gave 60 percent, and we believe it,” she said. “I think we’re all disappointed in how we played in front of our home crowd.”

Blanchet got on the board first as Nicky Froland scored with 7:01 left in the quarter. It was exactly three minutes later before either team scored again, as Caitlyn Salo stole the ball and made a nice bounce pass to Brittany Gray for the layup for two of her six points in the period.

The second quarter saw Bainbridge make a 14-5 run. Kaitlin Bailey scored five points, while Salo and Emily Farrar hit a three to put the Spartans up by 13 at halftime.

But Blanchet came back in the third. Jena Walentoski scored five points and the Braves trimmed the lead to single digits. Picha kept the Spartans in it with six points.

Mia Papasedero cut Bainbridge’s lead to just six, but the Spartans closed the game out as Farrar scored five points, Menalia hit a jumper and Bailey wrapped a pass around two Blanchet defenders to Picha for the lay-up while the Braves went cold until it was too late.

Picha led the team with 12 points. She also had six rebounds.

Gray had 11 points and nine rebounds, while Bailey had nine points and Farrar had eight points.

“We played well enough to win,” Gienger said. “But we gotta learn from this game and be ready to play every game.”

They’ll need that intensity as they travel to top-ranked and undefeated Chief Sealth today in their only regular season meeting.

Picha said they’ll be ready to play spoiler to Chief Sealth’s perfect season.

“We’re excited,” she said. “We enjoy being the underdog and we enjoy the fact that they think they’re going to stomp us.”

The Spartans (8-0, 12-0) return home to play West Seattle at 8 p.m. Friday.

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