She who laughs last laughs best, or so the saying goes.
And though the Spartans got on the board first, it was the team who scored last who was left laughing Friday, Jan. 11, as the Bainbridge High School varsity girls basketball team was defeated 72-57 by the visiting Ballard Beavers.
It was the first of two home-court defeats of the night, as the BHS boys were subsequently likewise licked in the evening’s second outing.
The loss left the BHS girls with an overall season record of 6-10 (3-8 in conference) and in the bottom spot in the Metro Mountain Division.
Though they had the lead initially, the island squad quickly saw the busy Beavers catch up about midway through the first quarter. Bainbridge regained a slight lead, but again Ballard caught up and in fact pulled ahead 16-15 by the start of the second.
Ballard was in front 23-17 with about five minutes left in the half, an advantage they were able to increase to 34-28 by the buzzer.
The end of the penultimate quarter saw the island squad trailing 50-42, a situation they had not managed to reverse by the final whistle.
It was a foul-filled match, with a seemingly copious number of calls resulting in a beleaguering start-and-stop pace of play.
Though you’ll never agree with all the refs’ calls, BHS Head Coach Karen Byers said the effect on the team’s focus was tangible Friday.
“Fouls are tricky because I really don’t love fouls; I think they stop the play and the flow of the game,” she said. “Some of them were really interesting … but the one thing I look for that I would like is that it’s consistent and at least it was like they called crazy fouls the whole game, so we knew what to do with it. When it’s not consistent, that’s when I really lose my mind.”
“It definitely kills momentum,” Byers added. “There were a few that were, I felt, pretty ticky-tacky, that I would have rather just had the continuation.”
Star scorer junior Olivia Wikstrom was an especially obvious foul-magnet Friday.
“She got so many fouls called on the floor for blocking rather than the shot,” Byers said. “It’s hard for the players when that happens because they don’t get the rhythm of the game or the rhythm of their shot — and it’s just frustrating for coaches.”
It has been a middling year for the Spartans, an uneven season of fits and starts with the team unable to string together more than three consecutive wins (a so-far highlight run that comprised wins against Kingston, Chief Sealth and Rainier Beach between Dec. 29 and Jan. 5).
Still, Friday’s showing was not utterly without positive points, said Byers, including a very strong start, something which the team has lately made a point of.
“That was one of our takeaways,” she said. “We’ve been working hard on starting better. That was one of our issues earlier in the year. We got thumped by Garfield on Wednesday, but we started really well. And then today … not the outcome I wanted, but the start was really good.”
Problems arose quickly thereafter, however. Such periodic lulls have, the coach said, plagued the team this season.
“We tend to have these kind of lapses where our defense is not as good or we kind of forget what’s going on or we stand and watch,” Byers said. “We talk about once we get those lapses shorter, or gone, we’ll just hit that next level that we want to work toward.”
Among other praise-worthy points, Byers said there were several standout performances against Ballard, most obviously sophomore Anna Kozlosky, who chalked up several big threes and a few critical free throws early on.
“That was one thing we talked about. We really kind of lost her in the second half and we really needed her,” Byers said. “In our Kingston game, she was one of our best players and recently she’s just been really stepping up her game.”
Three of the final four games on the Spartan schedule are to be played at home. The squad hosted Lakeside (5-5 in conference) Wednesday, and will play again in Paski Gymnasium against Nathan Hale (0-10) at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18.
The final home game of the year, and Senior Night, is slated to begin at 5:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, against Eastside Catholic (3-5).