Somebody was coming away with their first conference win of the year. The guests scored first, and they scored last, but for all the moments that mattered it surely seemed like a much-needed Spartan kind of night.
Alas, it was not to be for the Bainbridge High varsity boys basketball team Friday, as they fell to a late-game loss, by a single point, 49-48 against the Ballard Beavers (1-6 in conference) before a sizable crowd of shrieking — then moaning — fans.
Losing to Ballard knocked the Spartans’ overall season record to 4-8. They have yet to win a league game, and their conference record, 0-7, has them firmly seated in the bottom spot in the Metro standings.
O’Dea remains the team to beat (6-1 in conference), with Seattle Prep in second (5-2) and Eastside Catholic in third (4-1).
“We knew this was going to be a battle,” Spartan Head Coach Steve Haizlip said.
“That’s the thing about Metro, people look at these teams and they say, ‘Ballard hasn’t won a game in the league.’ Ballard’s a dang good team, and they’re very well-coached. So, for me it’s just an opportunity to play against another great team.”
Mutual respect aside, Bainbridge needed a win and went to the lockers Friday without. They had a decent showing at the recent Bellevue College Holiday Classic Tournament, and they whupped Kingston 74-51 on Dec. 15, but otherwise have not won a regular game since Nov. 28, in their first outing of the year against Port Angeles.
“It was there,” Haizlip said Friday. “We just didn’t get enough stops, that’s the biggest thing. We didn’t get enough rebounds.
“We’ve been taking steps to improve and we gave ourselves the opportunity to win and that’s all you can ask for, especially in Metro.”
The Spartans will next face off at home against Roosevelt at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12.
Against Ballard, the Spartans pulled ahead after an initial lag to lead 9-5 with about two minutes left in the first quarter. That momentum mojo kept working, and they finished the initial quarter up 11-5.
The second was rough on the island squad, as the Beavers pulled slightly ahead and the best they could do was notch a 21-all tie to end the half on.
The end of the third proved an eerily reversed prediction of the ultimate finale, as the Spartans managed to squeak ahead 35-34 by the start of the final quarter.
And a nail-biter it was, those last minutes of play.
Both teams leap-frogged in and out of the lead several times in the closing moments of the game. The Beavers led 39-33 with about five minutes to go — and the Spartans tied it up again, 39-all, in about a minute and a half.
The guests again leapt ahead, 44-41 with about three minutes left — and the island team again reeled in the slack.
Then, at last, they just ran out of time before mounting a response to Ballard’s final, albeit minor, lead.
The island squad’s scoring efforts were led by Ethan Schulte and Jack Barnes, who both notched 14 total points.
Sami Francis managed 11 points, Spencer Nicholas added four, Sky Weschler contributed three and Jackson Taylor added two.
Noticeably absent from the top stats this time around was co-captain and Spartan senior Charlie Hoberg, who rode the bench Friday with an injury.
“We were missing Charlie tonight,” the coach said. “So I think some guys were maybe out of position a little bit.”
However, the main takeaway for the Spartans, Haizlip said, remains the same lesson they’ve been learning all season.
“It’s been our main issue all year: bad possessions [and] running our sets incorrectly, which was a big issue today,” he said. “I just think right now it’s missed opportunities on possessions. Right now, that’s our Achilles’ heel, and that could be turnovers, not running our sets right, bad fluidity to the offense — that’s it.”