BHS water polo places 2nd in state

Bainbridge girls water polo coach Kristin Gellert called a timeout with less than a minute left in a 4-4 state title game to draw up a play that would overthrow the Viking empire. The Spartan squad tried to execute but Curtis held and had 37 seconds with an advantage to swim the entire pool and win the match.

Curtis succeeded and expanded its empire with a 5-4 victory, securing its third-straight girls water polo state title. Despite falling short it was an exhilarating moment for the Spartans.

“We come from a tiny 2A school with a shallow and small pool, and we competed with this 4A team that train in this incredible facility every day,” Gellert said. “It shows how much heart Bainbridge water polo has.”

The defense was the focal point for both teams as the first goal came from Curtis with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.

“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Gellert said. “They worked really hard for each other, and it shows. Congratulations to Curtis because they held us to four.”

Goalie Darby O’Hare led the defense with nearly 10 blocks in the game. Bainbridge’s offense continued to rattle shots off the crossbar until the first minute of the second quarter.

Lilia Manges tapped the ball into the net after Grace Rich crossed it into the middle to tie the game. Bainbridge took a 2-1 lead into halftime after Emma Atchison scored a goal.

Curtis tied it in the third quarter by stealing the ball from O’Hare and firing it into the net. However, Bainbridge responded with two goals from Manges and Ilana Gonzales. But after that the Spartans offense struggled.

“Curtis did a great job of staying in the lanes,” Gellert said. “We didn’t move the ball as quickly as we should because they had strong pressure. We kept fighting and poured every ounce of heart into the game.”

Curtis trailed 4-3 going into the final quarter. The Vikings tied it halfway through the quarter, and the entire crowd was on its feet until the final whistle.

Afterward, Gellert quoted the TV show Ted Lasso to her team in the locker room. “There is only one thing worse than feeling sad, and that is being alone and sad,” Gellert said. “None of us are alone, and we can all feel these feelings together and be proud of what we accomplished.”

The Spartans began the state tournament as the second seed to Curtis and dominated Mercer Island 22-0. The Spartans faced Gig Harbor in the semifinals. The teams split their regular-season games.

Bainbridge scored first when Montana Rist found the back of the net. However, the Tides scored three unanswered to take a 3-1 lead in the first quarter. Ilana Gonzales ended the quarter with a goal during an advantage situation to make it 3-2.

Gonzales tied the game for the Spartans in the second quarter, and the Spartans never looked back. Rist and Grace Rich scored while goalie Darby O’Hare had five blocks to take a 5-3 lead into halftime. The Spartans defense kept the Tide low, allowing three goals in the second half.

Rist and Rich scored two more goals and Emma Atchison scored two to give the Spartans an 11-6 victory. O’Hare finished with 11 blocks.

Lilia Manges scores two goals against Curtis.

Lilia Manges scores two goals against Curtis.

Bainbridge fans celebrate the Spartan water polo squad.

Lilia Manges scores two goals against Curtis.