Somerset boys basketball takes on Twin Cities powerhouse
Searching out new challenges brought the Somerset boys basketball team into a non-conference game with Totino-Grace last Tuesday.
Totino-Grace is a top-quality Twin Cities program, with a 12-3 record in the North Suburban Conference. The game was the challenge the Spartans had hoped for, but they came out on the losing end of a 65-56 decision.
This was Somerset’s second loss of the season against nine victories. The Spartans are back in action this Thursday, playing at St. Croix Falls. This will be a double-header, with the girls varsity game at 6:30 p.m. and the boys varsity game at 8 p.m.
The Spartans will battle for the Middle Border Conference lead next Tuesday. Somerset (7-1 in MBC) will host Prescott (9-0 in MBC). Prescott won 57-45 when the two teams collided in Prescott on Dec. 20.
This was a good match of two teams that can make things happen with their defense. The Spartans were able to force Totino-Grace into 21 turnovers, but the Eagles also used a sturdy press to force Somerset to turn the ball over 18 times.
Totino-Grace led 18-15 after the first quarter, but the game pivoted on the second quarter. Totino-Grace shut off Somerset’s offense, outscoring the Spartans 13-3 in the quarter. The Eagles maintained an 8-12 point lead for most of the second half, thanks to some accurate outside shooting. The Eagles were 8-17 from the three-point arc.
“We didn’t defend well in the half court,” said Somerset coach Brent Larson. “We got dinged on some stagger screens.”
Senior guard Jack Emmert led the Spartans with 19 points and three assists. He and Gaelin Elmore each recorded five steals. Elmore also accounted for 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Larson said Elmore rose to the occasion to battle with Totino-Grace’s talented post players.
“Gaelin played his best defense in his four years. He was energetic on offense and defense,” Larson said.
The main reason for scheduling teams like Totino-Grace and Tartan is to give the Spartans a knowledge of what the team needs to do when facing top-quality opponents.
“I think we learned a lot,” Larson said. “We learned we have to run the offense and that we can compete with good teams.”