The visiting Ballard Beavers were busy as, well, beavers Friday, Jan. 5 as they gnawed their way to a gnarly 49-33 win against the Bainbridge High varsity girls basketball team.
It was the island team’s second straight loss after a too-close-for-comfort win against Kingston back on Dec. 19, and it dropped their overall season record to 5-7 (2-5 in conference).
The Spartans boast the third-place spot in the Metro standings, tied with Holy Names Academy. Seattle Prep remains top dog (7-0 in conference). The island team will next play at home at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12 against Roosevelt.
Against Ballad, the Spartans actually got on the board first, and rather quickly too, and led for a bit. However, with about four minutes left in the game’s initial quarter, the guests were already ahead 8-4. It only got worse from there, as they stayed ahead, ending the first up 13-6.
Ballard stayed still further ahead in the second, and led 25-16 by the half.
The third quarter saw proportional gains on both sides, but Bainbridge was still behind 33-27 at the start of the fourth and Ballard went on to the win in stride.
“The score did not reflect how close that game was,” Spartan Head Coach Henry Guterson said. “We definitely got better during the course of the game.”
The Spartan scoring was led by sophomore Olivia Wikstrom and freshman Anna Kozlosky, who both notched 11 points throughout the night.
Co-captains Grace Carson and Morgan Lassoff managed five and four points respectively.
Carson meanwhile scored 3-for-4 free throws, though she sunk none of the three three-pointers she attempted.
Kozlosky shone especially bright in the stats, as she went 2-for-7 in three-pointers and 3-for-6 in free throws.
Despite walking away sans win, Guterson said the team had much to celebrate in the wake of Friday’s performance.
“We’re being more aggressive for sure,” he said. “I told the team after the game I was really proud of our heart, our hustle and the way we really tried, the ways we tried to beat them, the ways we tried to execute.
“It didn’t always work,” he added. “But you could tell our heads were in the game. We were really focused. We worked really hard. The last two minutes got ugly. We got tired. We got really tired.”
Beyond fatigue, no obvious Spartan mistakes stood out, Guterson said, praising the visitors’ performance. It was, he said, less a Bainbridge loss than it was a Ballard win.
“Ballard’s an excellent team,” Guterson said. “They’re well-coached. They mix it up on defense a lot. It’s clear they’ve scouted us. They know our sets. They know our plays. They know our players, and it’s tough. They do a good job.”
Looking ahead, two recent developments bode well for the rest of the season, he said: One stalwart Spartan has returned from the bench, and another is coming into her own.
“We just got Malia Peato back last game,” Guterson said. “She had a knee injury; she was out for a month and a half. She’s a good post presence for us, just in terms of some defense and some rebounding. So getting her back really helps.
“Grace [Carson] is developing into a really excellent post player,” he added. “She shoots for us. She’s somebody we can go to in the post. We have guards, but it’s nice having that post presence.”
With that going for them, and about seven games remaining in the regular season schedule, if the Spartans continue on the way they did against Ballard, better and better as things go (minus those last two minutes, of course), Guterson said there was no reason the team should not enjoy a strong finish and a potentially great postseason.
“We’re one play at a time,” he said. “We try not to look to far forward.
“We’re well positioned for a good postseason run and we’re getting a lot better.”