Bethel High School girls basketball appears to be on the mend.
After a tough first stretch of the season — during which injuries have caused several Braves players to miss significant time — Bethel returned from the holiday break somewhat healthier, and in prime position to capture the Class 3A Pierce County League later this month.
“Basically we’ve been struggling all year with just so many injuries,” Bethel coach Tim Brown said. “We still had four or five girls out (tonight).”
But, in arguably the program’s best win of the season, Bethel took down league rival Lincoln, 53-45, on Friday night in Spanaway to remain perfect in 3A PCL play. The Braves (10-3) now have a favorable path to a possible undefeated league championship, after sweeping the second-place Abes in both meetings this season.
“It feels great. It gives us a lot of motivation,” said Bethel junior Tiarra Brown, who led the Braves with 17 points. “A lot of we know what we can do, and what we can’t do. I feel like this was the best game we played.”
After jumping out to a dominant 31-17 lead in the first half over Lincoln, Bethel spent the second half working to stave off a late comeback.
“First half we (played) pretty good, but second half we knew they were going to come out strong, so we needed to come out stronger,” senior Kyli Pasamante said. “So, we just had to keep that energy and that intensity up and keep playing with that heart.”
Pasamante added 10 points in the win, while senior Sky Lett also contributed 10 points for the Braves.
“I feel like there’s a lot left. I feel like we have a lot left,” Tiarra Brown said. “We’re not stopping. We’re not done yet.”
Bethel had a scare with 29.9 seconds remaining the third quarter after Tiarra Brown pulled down a defensive rebound, got out in transition, and was hit hard attempting a layup. Bethel was forced to call a timeout as she hobbled off the court to the back of the gym to stretch out her knee before returning to the bench.
“No matter how many points they scored, no matter many runs they had, we had to keep our heads up and just had to stay in the game,” Tiarra Brown said.
Bethel slowed the game down and stretched out its possessions with a 44-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Sensing the change of play, Lincoln was able to rally behind Sharayah Johnson (12 points, eight rebounds, four blocks) and chipped away at Bethel’s lead, cutting it to 47-42 with 2:28 left.
“We just have to keep up the hard work. We just have to keep focusing on our defense since defense wins games,” Pasamante said.
Sophomore point guard Esmeralda Morales (seven points, three steals) — who was also injured to begin the season — later pulled down a board then launched a pass to Pasamante down the court, and the senior hit a layup to increase the Braves’ lead to 49-42.
Tiarra Brown followed up with a jumper after another Bethel defensive stop, sealing the win with a minute left to play.
“I just like the energy that everybody played with today,” Tim Brown said. “It was just four quarters of hard play basketball, and I’m proud of my girls, and we’re going finish the season out just like we did today.”