Points were at a premium for Tacoma Baptist and Seattle Lutheran on Jan. 10, which boded well for the Crusaders – who boast a solid defense – as they overcame a slow start to dispatch the Saints 39-26 to remain in first place in the Sea-Tac 2B League.
Taylor Talen led the way for Tacoma Baptist, putting up a game-high 17 points while adding six rebounds and seven of the Crusaders’ 21 steals to help offset the foul trouble for three of her teammates.
“Even though we didn’t have all of our starters in, I think the players that came off the bench showed really good effort,” Talen said. “Even though we made mistakes, we still made it through it as a team and won.”
Sarah Zeitler put the Crusaders up 2-0 with a layup off a steal two minutes into the game, but neither team scored until Darby Turner tied it with a layup after a steal with two minutes to go in the quarter. Paige Narayan dished a beautiful pass to Talen for a layup and later sank a buzzer-beating jumper to put Tacoma Baptist up 7-2 at the end of the first quarter.
Narayan was key to the defensive effort in the second quarter, hounding the Saints into several more turnovers, as Talen hit three more shots to help put the Crusaders up 17-8 at halftime.
“We just work really hard in practice and work on our trapping,” Narayan said of the defensive effort. “We just go all out and work hard.”
“We want to play tough defense. We try to keep teams below 10 points each quarter,” added Tacoma Baptist coach Josh Narayan, Paige’s father. “They take pride in the defense, and they like it.”
But with Narayan, Sallie Ausmus and Savannah VanEycke each picking up their fourth foul in the third quarter, it was up to Talen and some key reserves to keep up the effort.
“Even when my other teammates are in (foul) trouble, or if they’re not, I still feel like it’s my role to step up and be a leader out there,” Talen said. “But it was cool needing to step up again.”
Talen added two steals and four more points in the third quarter, and reserve guards Becca McDonald and McKenna Neufeld came off the bench to add quality minutes as the Crusaders held a 25-12 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Compared to the rest of the game, the final frame was a track meet, as both teams were hitting their shots, including Ausmus returning to sink three baskets in three minutes to put Tacoma Baptist up 33-20 with just over four minutes remaining. Talen helped seal it with two late steals that led to easy layups, as the Crusaders’ lead was never less than nine points in the fourth quarter.
Amy Jacobs led the Saints with 10 points, while Ausmus had seven points and Zeitler had six points and seven rebounds for the Crusaders. Tacoma Baptist, which sits at 10-3 overall and 4-0 in league play, has big aspirations but knows the road is still long.
“They’re goal is to get to district and then to state,” Josh Narayan said. “One at a time, that’s how we look at it. We’re playing hard, they’re mentally tough.”