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Spartan boys hang with Tigers for a half

The Somerset boys basketball has shown it can compete in the Middle Border Conference.

The next step is winning.

The Spartans trailed New Richmond 28-26 at the halftime break in Friday's game on the Tigers' court. The Spartan offense went ice cold in the second half, scoring 10 points, with the Tigers scoring a 53-36 win.

Earlier in the week the Spartans gasped for offense in the first half at Prescott. The offense found some breathing room in the second half and the Spartans made a nice charge, but it fell short in a 56-53 loss.

The Spartans stand at 1-3 after last week's losses and it looks more and more like the team is going to need to find creative ways to match opponent's scoring. In Friday's loss to New Richmond, the Spartans were able to create some room on offense. Luke Buerkley and Rocky Larson accounted for 18 of the 26 points in the first half.

In the second half New Richmond turned up the pressure, using a trapping half-court defense. Somerset turned the ball over frequently against that pressure and many of those turnovers led to fastbreak baskets for the Tigers.

Spartan coach Brent Larson said the team turned the ball over 24 times during the game, which was 43 percent of the team's possessions.

"You're not going to have a chance to win games giving the ball away that often," Larson said. "We have to value the ball more."

The Spartans had three assists, compared to the 24 turnovers, a ratio which Larson said must get better.

Buerkley finished the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He made six of his nine shots in the game. The Spartans will be looking to get the ball to Buerkley near the basket more frequently. Larson said he is also looking to find ways to get guard Danny Sheridan more open shots from the perimeter. Sheridan has been the team's most accurate outside shooter thus far.

Salvaged second half

For the second straight game, the Spartans played a miserable first half offensively. But when they played at Prescott last Tuesday, the Spartans were able to play a salvageable second half that got them back into contention.

The Spartans trailed by double digits for parts of the game, but their second half charge got them within one point of Prescott in the final 90 seconds of the game. That's as close as the Spartans could get, losing 56-53.

In last Saturday's loss to St. Croix Central the Spartans scored 11 points in the first half. They nearly matched that futility mark on Tuesday. A three-pointer at the halftime buzzer was able to raise their point total to 14, but they still trailed by 11 at the break.

Buerkley scored nine of the Spartans' points in the first half. He remained the constant for the offense in the second half, adding 12 more points.

Prescott had packed its defensive tightly into the paint, which caused the Spartans unlimited problems in the first half.

In the second half the Spartans played with better pace offensively and they hit some outside shots that helped to free up space in the paint.

Sheridan hit three treys to finish with 11 points. Tyler Ledbeter had another good game off the bench to finish with eight points.

Rice Lake tournament

The Spartans return to action in a tournament at Rice Lake next Tuesday and Wednesday. They are scheduled to face Rice Lake at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. They will play either Ashland or Oconto Falls in the second round of the tournament next Wednesday.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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