Towering Spartans best Eastside Catholic

Bainbridge senior guard Matt Hawk reaches over Eastside Catholic’s Grant Sutherland during home action Tuesday. The Spartans won 58-46.  -
Bainbridge senior guard Matt Hawk reaches over Eastside Catholic’s Grant Sutherland during home action Tuesday. The Spartans won 58-46.
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Sometimes, size matters. Sometimes, not.

Both truisms were on display in the Bainbridge boys’ basketball team’s 58-46 victory over Eastside Catholic on Tuesday to open Metro League play. The tallest player in the Crusaders’ starting lineup was just 6-2, and three were under six feet.

The Spartans used their considerable height advantage to dominate the backboards, pulling down 38 rebounds to just 16 for Eastside Catholic. The inside dominance translated into a number of second-chance opportunities for Bainbridge and virtually none for the visitors.

Yet most of the Crusaders were defensive backs on the Metro League championship football team, and they played aggressively. One result was a busy evening for the officials, who called a total of 44 fouls. Another came in the second half, when Eastside Catholic shifted into a zone and held Bainbridge to just six field goals during that span.

With such a short team, word before the game was that Eastside Catholic would put up a lot of three-point shots. They did indeed. Of the Crusaders’ 51 field goal attempts, 26 came from beyond the arc. But they had difficulty putting the ball into the basket, especially in the first half.

“It was a good start to the league season, and a good way to get ready for (last night’s game at) Rainier Beach,” said coach Steve Henderson. “But we definitely have things to work on. I think we relaxed a little in the second half.”

The Spartans took a lead they never relinquished on Ben Eisenhardt’s three-pointer just 15 seconds into the game. After a Spartan free throw, the Crusaders answered with a trey of their own a minute later. But the Spartans blanked them for the rest of the quarter, with the apex coming at the midway point. Will DiIorio snagged a rebound and threw a full-court pass to the 6-10 Eisenhardt, who slammed home an emphatic dunk. A Will Indvik free throw just before the end of the quarter gave the home team a 16-3 edge.

The Spartans extended the lead to 25-7 halfway through the second quarter on another DiIorio-to-Eisenhardt hookup. The teams traded points for the rest of the quarter, which ended with Bainbridge leading 36-19. Eisenhardt had 14 points at the break, while Ryan Burris added 7. The Spartans shot 50 percent from the field, making 14 of 28 shots. Eastside Catholic was just six of 26, just 23 percent.

Burris opened the third quarter with a feed to Eisenhardt to give the Spartans their largest lead of the evening at 38-19, but the Crusaders shifted into a zone. They slowly chipped away at the lead with a 10-0 run as their defensive pressure kept the Spartans scoreless for more than five minutes.

Paul Weese finally ended the drought with a steal and layin, and moments later DiIorio duplicated the feat. With about half a minute remaining, a Crusader leveled DiIorio and sent him to the locker room to stop a nosebleed. In his place, David Korsak sank a pair of free throws to extend the Bainbridge lead back to 15, and the quarter ended with the Spartans on top 44-29.

The Crusaders made one final run, outscoring Bainbridge 7-2 in the first three minutes of the final period. But Eisenhardt sank a short jumper and then added a dunk on a feed from Burris. With two and a half minutes remaining, the Spartans went into a delay game as the Crusaders began fouling frantically. The Spartans’ final eight points all came from the charity stripe. Four were from DiIorio, who was able to return to the game with no apparent ill effects.

Eisenhardt finished with a game- and season-high 22 points, while DiIorio had 12 and led the team in rebounding with 10. Korsak had nine, Burris seven, Weese three, Matt Hawk and Michael Stevenson two apiece and Indvik one.

The Spartans continue Metro League action next week, traveling to Ingraham on Tuesday and hosting O’Dea on Friday.

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