The identity of their next opponent was a bigger question than the outcome of the game as the Spartans cleanly and professionally dispatched the visitors from Holy Names Academy Tuesday, Feb. 6, claiming a 63-45 win in their first outing of the postseason and advancing one step closer to securing a shot at the SeaKing title.
Roosevelt, by the way, was ultimately revealed to be the only thing standing between the Bainbridge High girls varsity basketball team and the district tournament (to be held at Bellevue College starting on Saturday, Feb. 10), having themselves bested Chief Sealth 57-44 that same night.
The Spartans were thus set to face of the Rough Riders (who they defeated 47-38 back in January) on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at Ballard.
Despite the apparently uncomplicated nature of the team’s win against Holy Names (7-17 overall) Tuesday, Spartan Head Coach Henry Guterson said success was anything but a sure thing at tipoff.
“The scoreboard did not reflect how much of a battle that was or how tenuous it was,” he said. “It felt like a close game to me.
“Holy Names is a good basketball team,” he added. “Their record does not show how good they are. The Metro League is like that. They were the 13th seed; we were the eighth. That was a good game.”
Bainbridge got on the board first and led for the early moments of the first quarter, before HNA jumped ahead, briefly, with about 5 minutes left before the second.
The Spartans quickly got things back in had, though, and led 14-8 by the first buzzer. They would not fall behind again.
Bainbridge ended the half up 29-18, and though the Cougars were not without gains, the third was likewise a Spartan affair.
The final quarter began 41-29 Bainbridge, and the writing was on the wall.
“It’s a high pressure, loser-out game and we rose to the occasion and knocked shots down and played with confidence and moved the ball well,” Guterson said. “We didn’t back down. It was really fun to watch.”
A series of big threes and continual, textbook layups kept the Spartans on pace and out in front, he said.
“I think that’s how we’ve been since I got the job,” Guterson said of the squad’s focus on big-point shots.
“I’m a big believer in the three-point shot. We shoot a lot of them in practice and we’ve got player who work on it in the off-season. They come to the gym and they put up shots. It’s all about building that muscle memory and shooting when you’re tired so it’ll be like in a game and not just playing HORSE but really, really working on your shot the right way. We have players who do that and it shows in the games.”
The coach singled out senior Olivia Ditmore, junior Grace Carson, and sophomores Olivia Wikstrom and Kendall Havill as having contributed especially importantly to the win.
“You need multiple players making shots and playing well to do well and we had that tonight,” he said. “Two, three, four players were working well together and scoring points for us, being aggressive.”
The mood in the locker room, the coach said, was excited and gratified.
“They played well. They know they did,” he said. “They’re pretty happy.
“It’s something we’ve been working toward; putting it all together and playing our best basketball at the end of the year. And tonight I thought we showed that we’re there,” Guterson said. “We’re clicking.”
As for Roosevelt, Guterson said it was just about as perfect a matchup as fans could ask for, to see the Spartans face the Rough Riders for a shot at the district tourney.
“They’re a tough team,” he said. “Us and Roosevelt have the exact same in-league record. We’ve beat the same teams and lost to the same teams — except we beat them. That’s the only difference in league. In terms of standings it’s as close as you can get for an opponent.”