Eagle girls find small 'victories' against Knights

"BREMERTON - The Bremerton High School girls basketball team got the victory that counts in the standings when it hosted Klahowya last Friday night in a game between struggling Olympic League programs.But the Eagles found a few little victories along the way.The 60-46 final score left Class 2A Klahowya with an 0-11 record going into last night's road contest against 3A power Bainbridge. Bremerton, meanwhile, improved to 3-8 (3-6 in league play).But the Eagles emerged from the locker room with smiles. Maybe the largest belonged to their first-year coach, Laurie Stearns.We're making progress, said Stearns, who hasn't had a junior varsity squad all season because of a small turnout, and who used only six players against the Knights in Friday's game. Our last game, against Sequim, we had three girls score in double figures - the first time that's ever happened on our team.And tonight we took another step in the right direction. We have to be pleased, she said.After falling behind 30-11 at halftime, but Eagles won both the third and fourth quarters. At one point in the final minute, a run of eight straight points - six by sophomore guard Jessica Hicks - pulled Klahowya within 12, 58-46.It was fun, said Stearns, whose offense was averaging in the mid-20s early in the season. We've regrouped, and our girls are starting to understand their roles.Bremerton, which got a game-high 20 points from junior guard Marcia Abrams, had too much firepower for the Eagles. The matchup put Knights coach Daniel McGinnis in the unfamiliar role of favorite.But he said his team is far from finished winning games this season.This game was good for our girls, said McGinnis, who platooned his top 10 players for most of the contest against the shorthanded Eagles. They put a good little push on us in the second half and made us earn it.The Knights were coming off a victory-of-sorts of their own, when they outscored Central Kitsap in the second half of a 66-46 loss last Tuesday, Jan. 9.That (half) was kind of a defining moment for us, McGinnis said. We started to believe we could compete with the better teams. Now if we can just keep some of that momentum, we could start winning some of the close games we've been in.Believing was Klahowya's biggest downfall in the first half against the Knights. It took Stearns' young group - center Jayme Baxter is her only senior - the first eight or 10 minutes just to warm to the task, and by the time they looked ready to trade baskets, they were down 25-8.They fell behind as much as 21 points, 36-21, before they seemed to find their resolve behind a six-point run. When Hicks splashed down the first of her two 3-point shots on the night, they were back within 15. "

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