A potential slump was seemingly cut short Wednesday, Dec. 12, when the Bainbridge High varsity girls basketball team handily bested the visiting Cleveland Eagles 82-45 on the heels of two consecutive losses.
The win, the island squad’s first conference victory, bumped the Spartans’ record to 1-3 (3-5 overall), earning them the ninth-place spot in the Metro standings, tied (ironically) with Cleveland (1-4 overall).
Garfield boasts the top spot in the rankings, with a flawless conference record of 4-0.
“I really felt like we handled their pressure well and we were probably more of the aggressor pressure-wise, which is what I like to see,” said BHS Head Coach Karen Byers. “Last year when [we] played [Cleveland] it was a pretty intense game, so I wasn’t quite sure what I would get this year.”
Against Cleveland, what the Spartans got was on the board first (almost immediately) and they were alone — if not exactly lonely — there until a big three-pointer spared the visitors a scoreless first quarter with three minutes to go (21-3).
The second began with the Spartans up 25-9, a lead which they aggressively advanced to 45-24 by the end of the half.
The third was more of the same, with the home team staying steadfastly ahead despite a few minor upsets, and the fourth quarter began 70-34.
A few less experienced Spartans saw playing time in the final quarter, a sure sign of the team’s confidence. In fact, three of the five players on the court for BHS in the final moments were new to the varsity squad, the coach said.
“They all had been in the game before, but that was the first time I’ve really run them together,” she explained. “I thought they looked pretty good. I thought that they handled the pressure pretty well. I’ve put some of them in before and they’ve gotten frazzled and I didn’t see the frazzledness tonight, so that’s a bonus and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of them.”
The Spartans came out strong and were ahead throughout the night — though they’d been just as ready for things to go the other way.
“It was nice to see that the team is coming together,” Byers said. “We really focused on really preparing for this game mentally, and we talked about it in the classroom last night. We wrote up all the things we were going to do and if they were aggressive what tools we were going to use. Then, today we just focused on being ready. We focused on really coming out and jumping on them and it was nice that we were able to do that.”
Another mark in the Spartans’ favor: a slightly deeper bench. They cycled players much more frequently than the Eagles could. That, coupled with a very specific game plan, Byers said, made all the difference.
“We’re making steps in the right direction,” she said. “There were two really big things we were working on, one offensively and one on defense, which was our transition defense: getting back quicker. [That] had been an issue for us with some of the other games and I feel like we did a better job of that tonight.
“And we also did a really nice job of passing the ball and sharing the ball and working as a team. We have some shooters … so we wanted to try to get more [players] involved so eventually we take some of the pressure off of them.”
The Spartans next hosted Seattle Prep on Wednesday, Dec. 19 and will play again at home at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21 against Franklin.