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Somerset boys basketball knocked out of MBC lead

Somerset's Gaelin Elmore (20) brings the ball upcourt against pressure from Amery last Thursday.

After sailing through the first two months of the season, the Somerset boys basketball team hit an iceberg last week. And then another one.

The Spartans hadn't lost to a Wisconsin team until last Tuesday, when they were manhandled by Barron, 67-46. An even more damaging loss came last Thursday, when the Spartans were upset on their home court by Amery, 39-33. This loss knocks the Spartans out of the Middle Border Conference lead. They begin the week trailing Durand by one game in the standings and the Spartans were scheduled to play at Durand this Tuesday.

The Spartans knew they'd have their hands full with Barron. The Bears lost to Somerset in the regional finals last year and they returned nearly their entire team. Barron has one of the taller Division 2 teams in the area and the Bears packed those taller players into the lane to shut down Somerset's offense.

The game was close through the first half. Barron led 16-15 after a quarter, but Somerset took a 22-18 lead early in the second quarter. By halftime, Barron was back in front, 37-32.

Somerset scored the first hoop of the second half, but things went downhill quickly from there. They trailed 57-40 after three quarters and couldn't make any progress in the fourth quarter.

Somerset coach Brent Larson was blunt in his assessment of the Spartans' play.

"Defensively we stunk the whole game. There was no sense of urgency," he said.

The defense was better for the Spartans against Amery, but there were still problems finding scoring. Amery is another team that has rugged post players. They took away some of Somerset's usual scoring options.

Where Amery's height hurt the Spartans the most was in rebounding. Amery had 12 offensive rebounds in the game, several that were immediately put back for easy points.

"They really outworked us to get to the loose rebounds," Larson said.

Amery is an extremely patient team on offense. With the Warriors leading nearly the entire game, they were able to dictate the pace of the game.

Somerset trailed 16-13 at halftime, but the third quarter was again the Spartans' downfall. Amery outscored the Spartans 12-4 in the quarter to carry a 28-17 lead into the fourth quarter. Larson became so frustrated that he pulled all five starters out of the game in the third quarter in an attempt to light a fire under the team.

"We didn't start playing with any great urgency until the last five minutes. By then it was too late," Larson said.

The Spartans had one of their worst shooting nights of the season Thursday, making just 30 percent of their shots. For the first time this season, there wasn't a single Spartan who scored in double figures. Gaelin Elmore led the team with nine points. He also had 12 of the team's 23 rebounds. Tyler Ledbeter led the Spartans in scoring against Barron, finishing with 11 points. Elmore and Jack Emmert each produced nine points in that game.

The Spartans finish the first half of the conference schedule this Friday with a home game against Osceola. The Spartans will play a non-conference game next Tuesday at St. Croix Central.