Next step for Spartans boys basketball team is finishing off possible winsTwo excellent chances to add to their win total slipped away from the Somerset boys basketball team last week.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Two excellent chances to add to their win total slipped away from the Somerset boys basketball team last week.
The Spartans jumped out to a 16-4 lead at Osceola last Tuesday. They couldn’t hang onto the lead as Osceola clawed its way back for a 36-35 win.
That was followed by a 50-40 homecourt loss to Amery last Friday. The Spartans led for parts of the first half on Friday, before a weak second quarter got them in trouble. The Spartans did come back, making it a two-point game midway through the fourth quarter when freshman Gaelin Elmore nailed a three-pointer.
The score stood at 43-40 with a minute left, but Amery made 7-8 free throw attempts in the final minute to ice the game.
The Spartans are now 2-9 in Middle Border Conference games and 3-15 overall.
Amery appeared to be in a comfortable position to win Friday’s game, leading 39-30 entering the fourth quarter. The Spartans changed that, scoring the first seven points of the quarter. Ryan Himes hit a pair of hoops before Elmore’s three-pointer cut the Amery lead to 39-37.
Amery’s Sammy Leisz then saved the game for the Warriors. On two straight Amery possessions the Spartans forced Amery to take off-balance shots. Both times, Leisz outfought the Spartans for the rebound, scoring off both rebounds.
“That gave them the game,” Somerset coach Brent Larson said.
Larson said the Warriors were much more aggressive in taking the ball to the basket throughout the game. That was reflected in free throw opportunities. The Spartans were 1-4 from the line for the game, while Amery made 16-19 free throws.
Himes led a balanced Spartan offense with 10 points. Jake Green scored eight points, Elmore seven points and Danny Sheridan six points.
In last Tuesday’s game at Osceola, the Spartans’ quickness was initially too much for the Chieftains. Osceola coach John Walsh recognized that fact early in the second quarter. He switched to a zone defense that planted his 6-6 post players, Lincoln Howard and Kyle Bussewitz, in the middle of the lane. It stopped Somerset’s offense dead in its tracks.
“We struggled in attacking the zone,” Larson said. “We were too content to pass it around the perimeter against the zone.”
Somerset held onto a 25-17 lead at halftime, but Osceola outscored the Spartans 11-2 in the third quarter to take the lead.
Somerset had its chances to win the game in the final minute. Elmore hit 1-2 free throws with 40 seconds left to cut the lead to 36-35. The Spartans forced a turnover on Osceola’s next possession. The Spartans got three shots out of that possession, but couldn’t get any of them to fall.
After another Chieftain turnover, the Spartans got the ball back with nine seconds left. Point guard Tyler Ledbeter drove to the basket, but his contested shot didn’t fall and Osceola got the rebound.
Sheridan led the Spartans with 13 points against Osceola. The Spartans limited themselves to nine turnovers, one of their lowest totals of the season.
“I do believe we’re improving,” Larson said. “We’re playing to make a run in the playoffs.”
This will be a busy week for the Spartans. They play at home on Friday against Baldwin-Woodville. They start next week with games on back-to-back nights. The Spartans will play at Barron in a non-conference game on Monday. That’s followed by a home game versus Durand next Tuesday.