PASKI GYMNASIUM —The Bainbridge Spartans faced off against the Lakeside Lions Friday, Feb. 7, each competing for the same guaranteed district berth in the Metro League boys varsity basketball postseason bracket.
The Spartans won 64-44 and advanced to districts.
BHS scored the first two baskets of the game early on and in rapid succession. They would proceed to outscore Lakeside 13-7 in the first quarter alone.
It was a critical early lead, according to Spartan Head Coach Scott Orness.
“We want to start treating every game as a big game like this, that’s how you move on in the postseason,” he said. “When you’re not running your normal defense, if a team gets two buckets on you early, you start to lose faith in it. Now, all of a sudden, it’s a different type of ballgame. Getting that early lead was real key in us believing in our system and in what we were doing.”
Senior guard Joey Blacker, who ended the game with 14 points, agreed that an early lead was an invaluable advantage.
“It’s huge mentally,” Blacker said. “It’s much easier playing with the lead than to dig a hole for yourself, and the fans had a whole bunch of energy for us so we just fed off of that.”
Energy was indeed in abundance as the Spartans played before a nearly packed gymnasium. Judging by the cheers, everyone in attendance clearly understood how important the game was.
“If you took away the 2006-07 season from my career as a coach, this definitely falls in [as] one of the top 10 games that we had in front of us,” Orness said of the victory. “Our guys really stepped up to the moment.”
Friday’s game was also the last regular season home game and Senior Night. The young Spartan squad recognized team manager Juliana Ma and Blacker as their only two departing seniors.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Joey tonight,” said Orness. “He had big shots, made big plays and defensively our guys really bought into the game plan. He’s a heck of a ball player.”
Blacker himself remained humble and rather nonchalant about both the praise and the explosive applause that followed his recognition before the game.
“I just love basketball,” he said. “I love playing. Everyone gets old, everyone graduates, it’s just my time. It was a great game and a good team win. We executed the game plan well.”
Blacker said that he intended to celebrate the victory by following the coach’s instructions and getting some rest over the weekend.
Bainbridge outscored Lakeside in every quarter except the second, which they tied.
The top Spartan points-earner was Oskar Dieterich, who finished the night with 15 points.
Teammates Blake Swanson scored 12, Tente Schulte managed 10 and Ben Beatie finished the game with six points.