What appeared to be a budding streak was cut short last Friday when the Bainbridge High School varsity boys basketball team suffered through a slog of a loss to the visiting West Seattle Wildcats, ultimately being bested 55-31.
It was the island squad’s final home game of the year, and came on the heels of two consecutive wins to drop their overall season record down to 3-3 (2-3 in conference).
The Spartans share the fifth-place spot in the Metro standings with Roosevelt.
Garfield and West Seattle remain at the top of the heap (both 5-0 in conference), with Eastside Catholic, O’Dea and Nathan Hale tied for second (4-0).
Last Friday, West Seattle scored first and kept Bainbridge at bay throughout the night.
The Spartans got on the board with about three minutes left in the first quarter, but entered the second on the wrong side of the 12-3 score.
Despite a more vigorous performance, halftime saw them trailing 25-14.
Again in the third, the guests set the pace, and though the Spartans struggled to catch up, they were down 41-19 by the start of the final quarter.
And, though they poured on a bit of gas in the game’s final moments, it was too little too late for the island squad score-wise.
It was something of a self-given Christmas present for West Seattle.
“That team, I just talked to them and they really wanted to beat us,” said BHS Head Coach Steve Haizlip. “They came off a big win from beating Rainier Beach and I talked to somebody afterward that said, ‘We wanted this game more than the Beach game.’
“They saw how we were playing and it’s a league game,” he added. “I think we let our guard down a little bit, I don’t know if we were exactly ready.”
But the Wildcats were — and how.
“I thought West Seattle played a solid game — defensively, offensively, I thought they dictated the entire game,” Haizlip said. “We had fight in the second quarter, but they just hit us right back and we never, honestly, after that recovered.”
It was a question of the Spartans allowing themselves to be led, according to the coach.
“I think we kind of played like, ‘Well, I’ll keep you in front,’” he said. “And then I think offensively we were rushed and just going to spots instead of taking the lead.”
In the wake of the loss, Haizlip was reticent to put too much emphasis on just one performance, especially when the team had been improving reliably since the start of the year.
“This group is great,” he said. “This happens in basketball. You have bad games and it just doesn’t seem like it’s going your way.”
Soon, however, the Spartans would be charting a new way — way down south.
“We go to Phoenix on [Dec.] 26,” the coach said last Friday. “We play three teams down there; it’s the Cactus Jam in Tempe [Arizona].
“It’ll be a great opportunity to actually grow as a team.”
The Spartans are set to face opponents from Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, and Portland, Oregon during their trip, and hopefully returning with the prized souvenir of a fresh perspective and a clean start.
“I do think people are recognizing what we’re doing,” Haizlip said. “I think we have to come in with a mindset like West Seattle I think had, [which] was to really shut us down.”
The Spartans will begin the new year, upon their return, with two away games before truly returning home at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7 to host Chief Sealth, the first of three consecutive games in Paski Gymnasium, followed by a faceoff with Rainier Beach at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10 and against Garfield at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14.