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Spartans win in gutsy comeback against Chief Sealth
A few more shots and Taylor Tye would have set off the automatic fire alarms and sprinklers in Paski Gymnasium.
With white-hot energetic shooting from the freshman guard — Tye hit five three-pointers, four in the first quarter — the Spartans scorched Chief Sealth 55-49 in the first game of the Metro League girls basketball tournament late last week.
“It was nice to get that lead for the team and give us a little momentum for the rest of the game,” Tye said.
Tye nearly broke the school’s record for most three-pointers in a game with her incredible offense from behind the arc. The best-ever mark for threes in a game — set in 2009 — is seven. She didn’t think much about pulling the trigger on so many threes, she said.
“Once you make one, you get confidence, and you just keep shooting,” she said.
Still, Tye put herself on par with Spartan Coach Nicole Hebner, who previously had sole possession of the No. 2 spot for most treys in a game when she played for Bainbridge.
“She tied that record tonight. If anyone’s going to break anything, I would love for it to be her,” Hebner said.
The Spartan coach added that it was only a matter of time before Tye matches that best-ever mark or moves past it.
“She’s got three more years to do it. I’m sure she’ll do it,” Hebner said.
Tye finished the game with 16 points and led all scorers. Her breakout game couldn’t have come at a better time for the Spartans, who found themselves playing in a loser-out game in the opening salvo of the Metro tourney.
“She’s kind of been in a funk, so it’s nice to see her get out there and shoot with confidence,” Hebner said. She also said Tye will likely develop into one of the best pure shooters the Spartan squad has ever seen.
“We know she can do it. She’s just got to believe that every time she shoots, it’s going in,” Hebner said.
Bainbridge’s big win over the Seahawks wasn’t a solo show, however, and wasn’t a start-to-finish romp by the Spartans.
The Spartans heated up quickly against Chief Sealth. BHS singed the Seahawks with a 20-8 first quarter lead, and five Spartans put up points (Paige Brigham, Katie Usellis, Paulina Bredy, Nancy Karreman and Tye).
But Chief Sealth pushed the Spartans to the back burner in the second quarter, and the visitors outpaced Bainbridge 14-5 as seven Seahawks scored in the quarter.
With Bainbridge ahead by just three, 25-22, at the start of the second half, Chief Sealth continued its comeback and in the third quarter the Seahawks outscored BHS 22-10 to claim a 44-35 advantage. Bad passes, flat shots that fell short, turnovers; things looked bleak for Bainbridge.
The scrappy Spartans stiffened, though, aided by crucial three-pointer from the left top of the arc by freshman Kiera Havill and 2-for-2 shooting from the line by Usellis.
Senior Maddie Ketcheside stepped up to be the hero of the game in its closing minutes. She pulled the Spartans within striking distance after hoisting an off-balance jumper just as the shot clock expired and Bainbridge trailed by just two.
The clutch shot dazed Chief Sealth, and Ketcheside sealed the win with a near-perfect performance from the free-throw line in the fourth, connecting on 7-of-9.
On that momentum changing shot, Ketcheside said even she had her doubts.
“I didn’t even think I got it off in time,” she said. “I didn’t think it was going in.”
Ketcheside said the total team effort at the finish — an echo of the Spartans’ first quarter play — was the key to the win.
“That was the best basketball I think we played all season in the first quarter. In the second and third quarter, we got a little stressed out,” she said. “In the fourth, we definitely came together as a team and puled ahead.”
“That was great to see. The whole team chipped in and everyone had a huge part,” Ketcheside said.
The coach agreed.
“We played probably some of our best basketball that we played this year during the first quarter and the fourth quarter,” Hebner said.
“The best part about our team tonight, they never gave up. They had all the momentum going their way,” she said of Chief Sealth.
“They came out, hit some shots, turned the ball over in the second half. Going into the fourth quarter, we just said, ‘Hey, this is an unplayed basketball game and you’re acting like we’ve already lost it.’ Let’s go out there, settle down, and play. Anything can happen in eight minutes, and we’ve seen it all year long.”
Eight Spartans scored in the contest. Ketcheside finished with 14 points, while Usellis added six. Karreman contributed five points, and fellow Spartans Brigham and Rosie Brown added four points each.
Kayla Buchmeier and Havill added three points each.