The Eastside Catholic Crusaders lost just one game this year.
Unfortunately, it was the night before they played against Bainbridge.
The Metro Mountain Division leaders (14-1 in conference) bounced back from a loss against Rainier Beach on Jan. 31 when, after trekking to Bainbridge, they handily bested the island boys varsity basketball team 71-28 on Friday, Feb. 1, the last game of the regular season.
Losing left the Spartans with an overall season record of 7-13 (3-12 in conference) and in the bottom spot of the Metro Mountain standings.
They played their first postseason game Tuesday, Feb. 5, at home against Chief Sealth.
On Friday, the guests were alone on the board for much of the first quarter, leading 15-2 with about four minutes left. The buzzer saw the Spartans behind 26-2.
The second saw the Spartans slow their gung-ho guests down a bit, if still remain unable to gain much ground themselves, and the half ended with BHS behind, 34-14.
In the third, the island boys played some of their best basketball of the night, seemingly surprising the Crusaders with a high-octane burst of energy as they leapt back into the fracas post-half time.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough, and the BHS squad entered the final quarter down 56-21.
BHS Head Coach Steve Haizlip said no lengthy postgame dissection was necessary: The Crusaders are just that good.
“I don’t think it was our best performance,” Haizlip said. “They’re very good, but I believe we’re really good. I believe we’re better than that.”
Prepping for such a contest requires a mental calmness the Spartans were perhaps lacking Friday, the coach said.
“You just got to be prepared for their pressure and that’s what they pride themselves on,” he said. “It really is hard to prepare for that.
“They’re good; they’re just good and we rushed a lot of shots because of their defense,” he added.
Haizlip said the third quarter especially remained something to be proud of, however.
“I was hoping for a little bit of fight; that’s what I want out of these guys,” he said. “They’ve shown fight all season and even though the score was very lopsided they continued to battle and I think put their egos aside and just play.”
Being Senior Night, the squad’s upperclassmen — Spencer Nicholas, Jackson Taylor, Merritt McMahon and Derek Patterson — were recognized before the start of the game Friday, a familiar foursome known and loved by island sports fans. They are an especially important group for Haizlip, being the first players to have spent four years in the program with him as coach.
“Not just in basketball but as individuals they’ve been so great for me and the program, my family,” he said. “They’re just good people and that’s my number one goal: to hopefully mentor and develop some good young men. And they are.”