It was like a terrible trailer for a great movie.
The first few minutes were brutal, but then the Bainbridge High varsity boys basketball team came through Friday, Jan. 18, sending the Nathan Hale Raiders packing as the Spartans scored a 57-46 win.
The victory bumped the Spartans’ overall season record to 7-11 (3-10 in conference; they are ranked in the bottom spot of the Metro Mountain Division) and ended at last the island squad’s latest multi-game losing streak, a four-game slump that began Jan. 5.
Against Nathan Hale, the Spartans fell behind initially, battling back to trail 10-5 with about four minutes left in the first quarter. They began the second down 15-11, but finally hot on the heels of the guests.
The Spartans pulled ahead for the first time, 16-15, with about 6:30 left in the half and were ahead by a bucket, 25-23, at the buzzer.
They maintained the lead throughout the second half, the final quarter beginning with the Spartans still slightly ahead, 45-32.
Though the first and final moments were not great, BHS Head Coach Steve Haizlip said it was on the whole one of the best team performances of the year — and against an evenly-matched opponent.
“This was a more complete game for us,” he said. “I think it was a little sloppy at the end, didn’t make our free throws, but overall it was, I think, solid.
“It feels good to win,” he added. “They hit a couple of tough shots and we weren’t as focused as possible. That’s been our biggest issue, and honestly we have started games well, it’s been the finishing. So [tonight] was the reverse effect, but they responded.”
Nathan Hale (3-15) is, as is so often the case in Metro, better than their record, the coach said.
“I told them: Don’t look at the record because that doesn’t mean anything,” Haizlip said of the BHS squad’s pregame prep. “They have great players … So do we, and that’s what I keep telling them.”
It’s been a year of ups and downs for the BHS team, with a three-game winning streak between Dec. 27 and Jan. 4 being the so far the huge highlight of the season.
But the island team also is better, the coach said, than the numbers would seem to indicate.
“We’ve had six losses when we were tied with a minute to go,” he said. “We’re a good team. We just haven’t been able to finish. We did it tonight. We now have to build off this.”
Two games remain on the regular schedule: on the road Friday, Jan. 25 against Ingraham (10-6), and at home for Senior Night at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 to play Eastside Catholic (16-0).
“What we want to be doing is playing our best basketball toward the end,” Haizlip said. “We’re going to go into the Metro playoffs no matter what happens with these last two games.
“What we want to do in these last two games, win or lose, we need to be able to come back in and say, ‘We played Bainbridge basketball.’ If we played Bainbridge basketball and we come up short, in my opinion as long as we’re moving in that positive direction we’ll build.”
Tactics-wise, Haizlip said his biggest concern in the final weeks of the season is consistency.
“That has been our biggest thing,” he said. “[Against Lakeside on Tuesday] we didn’t finish very well, I think it carried over a little bit to the beginning of today.”