By playing high-powered defense, the Somerset boys basketball team now has the ability to play competitively with most teams in the area.
It is offense that will determine if the Spartans are able to overcome those teams.
That was the case in the Spartans' two games last week. The Spartans played a splendid defensive game against Barron last Monday, Dec. 4. The offense played equally well, resulting in the Spartans pulling away for a 49-33 non-conference win over the Barron.
In last Friday's game at Amery, the Spartans played another high-quality defensive game. But the offense was never able to find its way, even in two overtime periods. The Spartans scored a total of two points in the two overtimes, losing 57-43.
The Spartans continue to distance themselves from the Somerset teams of recent seasons, mainly due to a much more aggressive style of play. Led by Will Piletich and Ty Madden, the Spartans are much more sure of themselves on offense. Piletich and Madden both finished with 12 points in the win over Barron.
The Spartans didn't take the lead until late in the first half. But once they got it, they weren't about to give it back. A three-pointer by Madden just before the halftime buzzer extended the Spartans' lead to 27-19.
Due to outstanding defensive pressure from the Spartans, Barron was limited to 14 points in the second half.
"Barron had two pretty good guards. We did a good job of limiting their chances," said Somerset coach Taylor Germain. "I think we wore them out. We had defensive pressure on them the whole game."
Barron wasn't able to get many points in the paint, largely due to hard work from Somerset's post defenders. Led by James Schachtner, Bennett Baillargeon, Mason Cook and Dylan Sayers, the Spartans wouldn't allow Barron to make any entry passes into the post. Germain said the defensive success comes from the footwork the post players have worked to improve to better take away entry passes.
No matter how well the defense played, it couldn't cover the Spartans' tough night offensively at Amery on Friday. Somerset trailed 27-26 at halftime. Both offenses bogged down in the second half, with the score 41-41 at the end of regulation. Each team scored two points in the first overtime. Somerset ran out of steam and was outscored 14-0 in the second overtime.
Piletich led the Spartans with 13 points and Brennan Sheridan scored 12 points. Sayers scored Somerset's only points in the overtime.
The Spartans continue their Middle Border Conference schedule this Friday, Dec. 15 with a game at Baldwin-Woodville. The Spartans host Rice Lake in a non-conference game next Tuesday.