A roller coaster year: Winter sports

BHS swimmer Cameo Hlebasko is a returning veteran swimmer for the team. - Brad Camp
BHS swimmer Cameo Hlebasko is a returning veteran swimmer for the team.
— image credit: Brad Camp

The first installment of a three-part series. Come back Thursday for the best of spring sports.

2009 was a year of new beginnings for the Bainbridge Spartans. A veteran coach stepped down, and new faces assumed leadership of the basketball programs.

Gymnasts take third at state meet

In the closest finish in a decade, the Bainbridge girls took third place at the 3A state tournament, finishing eight-tenths of a point behind state champion Columbia River and one-eighth of a point behind second-place Auburn-Mountainview.

The Spartans, who placed in the top six at state three times since winning the title in 2005, were led by Annie Zuckerman’s 15th-place all-around finish. Freshman Adrienne Palay placed 26th.

Despite the disappointing end to the 2008-2009 season, the Spartans notched their eighth Metro League title in nine years.

So far this season, Bainbridge has extended its win streak to 115 meets.

Bainbridge boys basketball lives on the edge

In their first season under Steve Henderson, the Spartans claimed a share of the Metro League’s Mountain Division title, toppling several Metro powerhouses in their wake.

Bainbridge started the year with a six-game win streak,upsetting the top-ranked Franklin Quakers 62-60 Jan. 28.

With six seconds remaining in the game, senior Paul Weese gave the Spartans the 62-59 lead. The Spartans quickly fouled Franklin guard Peyton Siva, who made his first free throw and intentionally missed the second. But senior Ben Eisenhardt came up with the rebound as time expired, sealing the win.

The Quakers, who entered the game undefeated and ranked No. 16 in USA Today’s Super 25, were overpowered on the boards, grabbing only 16 rebounds to the Spartans’ 36.

But the Spartans’ last-minute heroics weren’t over. Three weeks later, the Spartans hosted Rainier Beach, their toughest division opponent.

Junior Will DiIorio kept the Spartans alive at the end of regulation, sinking a trey with 35 seconds remaining to force overtime, then scoring another three-pointer to seal the win 55-52.

But the post-season didn’t bode well for Spartans, who lost three straight playoff games, including the division championship to Rainier Beach. As the fourth seed at districts, Bainbridge’s season ended with a 61-51 loss to Cleveland.

The Spartans finished the season 14-10.

Gienger retires, Lande takes over

After 18 years at BHS, Penny Gienger stepped down as head coach at the end of the 2008-2009 season. The squad finished 17-6, led by BHS all-time leading scorer Brittany Gray.

Gienger, who became the Spartans’ winningest coach in school history with a 301-144 record, led the team to a 3A championship and two fourth-place finishes in seven trips to the state tournament.

Gienger passed the torch to Terry Lande, who served as the head coach at Marist High School in Eugene, Ore., from 1990 to 2003. Lande compiled a 245-28 record at Marist, including a 109-game win streak.

Gienger took over the head coaching position at Kingston High School after former head coach Kevin Strozier resigned in November.

This season, Lande is looking to rebuild a young team that lost all of its statistical leaders. The Spartans currently hold the top spot in the Metro-Sound division with a 2-2 record.

Winter highlights:

Wrestling – Despite their the Spartan wrestlers placed 19th in the state tournament, bolstered by Eli Narte and Mason Remy’s fourth-place finishes.

Boys swimming – David Ortyn set new school records in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly, and Andrew McCarthy broke BHS’ 500-yard freestyle record on the Spartans’ way to a sixth-place state finish.

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