Spartans work through growing painsAt times during its three games last week, the youth of the Somerset boys basketball team was painfully obvious.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
At times during its three games last week, the youth of the Somerset boys basketball team was painfully obvious.
But there were also points where the Spartans showed signs of a team coming of age.
Those signs were most clear on Friday, when the Spartans lost at St. Croix Central, 53-50. If there was any weariness from playing for the second night in a row, the Spartans didn’t show it. They led for much of the game, before St. Croix Central forged ahead in the fourth quarter.
Friday’s game was one of the most complete performances the Spartans have logged this season. The offense had good balance, with seven players scoring five points or more. Defense, which was the issue in the loss at Amery the night before, was much tighter and played under control.
Another good sign from this game was the returning accuracy of the Spartans’ outside shooting. Seniors Danny Sheridan and Tommy Vanasse combined to hit five of their nine three-point shots in the game.
The Spartans outrebounded Central 23-18 in the game, led by freshman center Gaelin Elmore’s six rebounds.
Defense has been the stable factor for the Spartans this season, but that wasn’t the case last Thursday. The Spartans gave up 43 points in the first half to previously winless Amery. The Spartans tried to gain ground in the second half but ended up taking a 62-52 defeat.
The bright side for the Spartans is they are now scoring enough points where they have a legitimate shot at winning most games. If they can maintain that success and regain their defensive sharpness, they might be ready to compete with most Middle Border Conference teams.
Elmore and Jacob Green led the Spartan offense at Amery, with each of them netting 10 points. Ryan Himes finished with eight points.
The Spartans were severely outrebounded by Amery. Sophomore guard Tyler Ledbeter finished with five rebounds, the only Spartan to have more than two rebounds in the game.
It’s rare when a team is held scoreless in the first quarter of a varsity game. It’s even more rare when that team comes back to win.
The Somerset boys nearly accomplished that rarity in their home game against Osceola last Tuesday. The Spartans weren’t able to complete the comeback, losing to the Chieftains 52-40.
The Spartans didn’t score until midway through the second quarter, when they trailed 20-1. By halftime the margin stood at 22-7.
The one factor that had worked for the Spartans in the first half was their defense and that sparked a huge comeback in the second half.
Not only were the Spartans held scoreless in the first quarter, they did not grab a single defensive rebound in the whole first half. Every Osceola possession in the first half finished in either a basket, a turnover or a foul.
The Spartans were able to cause turnovers in the first half. In the second half they began to convert those turnovers into points. Guards Sheridan, Jack Emmert and Green combined for 28 points, nearly all in the second half. The Spartan defense caused 26 Osceola turnovers.
Coach Brent Larson said the Spartan offense couldn’t get shots past Osceola’s pair of towering post players in the first half.
“It was a drought like I’ve never seen before,” Larson said. “Their big kids were really clogging the middle.”
The Spartans are now in the midst of an extended gap in their schedule. They don’t play again until next Tuesday, when they resume their MBC schedule with a game at Durand.