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Girls take division title into playoffs; Gienger to retire
As expected, girls basketball coach Penny Gienger won her 300th career game on Tuesday to become the winningest coach in school history as the Spartans easily defeated West Seattle, 55-33.
The team led 30-10 at halftime and Gienger substituted liberally in the second half. Brittany Gray scored 22 points and Anna Wood added 12. Gray finished as the Metro League’s leading scorer with an average of just under 19 points a game, more than four points ahead of the runnerup
With Chief Sealth forfeiting yesterday’s game, the Spartans end the regular season with a 17-3 overall mark, 13-2 in Metro and the Sound Division title. Metro tournament action begins Tuesday (see page 14).
But the big news came on Senior Night the previous Friday. The announcer informed spectators during pregame ceremonies that Gienger would be retiring from coaching at the end of the season after 18 years at the Spartan helm. She will continue to teach physical education.
“I think it’s time for me to get out,” Gienger said of her decision. “I needed some time for myself. I wanted to keep it under wraps. I told my team, they told their parents and it snowballed from there.
“I’m tired,” Gienger continued. “I could probably handle it if it was just mid-November to mid-March, but that’s not how it works. There are things like summer camps and working with younger kids. It takes so many hours to keep a program at the level I want, so we can be competitive. I don’t lose well.
“Coaching makes me moody. You’re up, then you’re down.”
But one thing has always remained the same. “I love working with the girls,” she said.
Gienger won’t lack for things to do in her suddenly unaccustomed free time. In addition to having recently taken up golf, she has a young golden lab that she likes to run with. She’ll work in her yard. She’s also looking forward to traveling, both during the summer and during the holiday break. “Now I can spend Christmas with my family,” she said.
It may have been appropriate that Friday’s school-record-tying 298th victory (Tom Paski, for whom the gym is named, had the same total during his 23-year tenure) came with a record of its own. The Spartans held Rainier Beach to four second-half points. (The school record for a half came in 1998 when the Spartans held Klahowya to two first-half points).
The Spartans jumped out to a 19-8 first quarter lead with Gray scoring 11 points, and expanded the margin to 32-15 at halftime. After Beach scored early in the third quarter, the main point of interest became whether or not the Spartan defense would pitch a shutout the rest of the way.
Gienger pulled her starters midway through the fourth quarter, and Beach finally scored another hoop with just over two minutes remaining for its final points of the evening. The final score was 47-19.
Gray led all scorers with 16 points, Wood had 11 and Kirsten Michael added 10. The Spartans held Beach to 2 field goals in the second half out of 29 attempts, an almost microscopic 7 percent.
The story was similar the following evening as the Spartans traveled to Sequim to play a game postponed by weather conditions during the holiday break.
The Spartans knocked off the Wolves 58-27. Of 15 Spartans who made the trip, 14 scored. Micki Johns and Kas Totura led the team with nine points a apiece, and Johns just missed a double-double as she pulled down 10 rebounds.