A scrappy back-and-forth faceoff, marked by an early tie and subsequent lead swapping aplenty, came to a close with the Bainbridge High varsity girls basketball team up 36-31 over the visitors from Lakeside.
It was the island squad’s third straight win, and the victory late last week tipped their overall season record into the black: 4-3 (2-2 in conference).
The Spartans’ triumph was a big win in another way too, reportedly being the first time in 14 straight meetings that BHS has bested the Lions, perhaps a sign of the end of a tired trend.
“It’s a great win,” BHS Head Coach Henry Guterson said. “There’s lots of room for improvement, especially on offense, in rebounding. But, certainly it feels good to have a three-game winning streak and to be getting now into the core of Metro League play.”
With 12 regular season games ahead and eight in the bag, the team was almost literally mid-season now and coming together well, Guterson said.
“There’s lots to work on,” he said. “But lots of good things, too.”
The Spartans were displaying both types of play against the Lions.
Regular scoring and response left the game tied 7-all by early in the second quarter. The guests then leapt mildly ahead for a bit, but the Spartans had things back in hand (14-11) with about 4 minutes left in the half.
The Lions nudged their way back to the lead just as the buzzer sounded though, and the second half began with the Spartans behind, 16-14.
A big scoring, even-handed third left things again tied up (25-all) at the start of the fourth, when the guests initially jumped back out in front again.
The Spartans hung tough, and squeezed through late in the final moments and managed to hold the lead long enough to stake claim to the win.
Grace Carson led the Spartan scorers, totaling 15 against the Lions.
Olivia Wikstrom earned kudos aplenty, racking up eight points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Freshman phenom Anna Kozlosky had seven points and six rebounds to her credit. Kendall Havill, meanwhile, rounded out the book with two points earned and nine rebounds.
Looking ahead, Guterson said the girls would see many more close calls if they did not renew their rebounding efforts. It remains his area of primary concern.
“I think it’s really a mentality, to have that desire to go get the ball,” he said. “There’s technique behind it, too. There’s technique and mentality. But, ultimately, I feel like you just have to want the ball.”
So, moving ahead, would the Spartans want it enough?
The coach said he suspects the answer is yes.
In the meantime, Guterson said the squad is concentrating on more concrete fixes and specific areas of concern.
“Certainly, the points we give up off turnovers, we have to cut back on,” he said. “The offensive rebounds we give up [too]. They’re the two stats I’m really looking at closely right now: points off turnovers and second-chance points.
Offensively, the coach said the team needs “better movement.”
“We’re working on our movement in our motion offense and if we can fix that, get better movement on offense, limit the amount of points we give off turnovers and have us get more second-chance points, it’ll really help things,” he said.
One area in which the Spartans seemed to need no help is free throws (Olivia Wikstrom and Grace Carson in particular, made every one they attempted in the fourth quarter against Lakeside), but that’s also the area Guterson doesn’t want to talk about.
“You don’t want to talk about free throws,” he laughed. “As long as it’s going well, you don’t want to talk about it. You don’t push it.”
They next play at home at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3, against Seattle Prep — the top team in the league (4-0 overall).