The Somerset boys basketball team played a stinker of a first half at St. Croix Falls Tuesday, Nov. 28, but the Spartans came out smelling like roses.
After trailing 25-11 at halftime, the Spartans outscored the Saints 35-18 in the second half, carrying Somerset to a 46-43 victory. The win evens the Spartans' season record at 1-1.
Junior Will Piletich was the catalyst in Somerset's tremendous comeback. He finished the night with 16 points, 14 of them coming in the second half.
"He really played inspired in the second half. He pretty much carried us," said Somerset coach Taylor Germain. "You could tell he wanted it."
The Spartans made a strong, steady comeback in the second half. They took their first lead at 40-39 with four minutes remaining. They made a couple miscues in the hectic pace of the final minutes, but were still able to build the lead up to 46-41, before SCF added a couple late free throws.
Germain said the coaches need to do a better job of preparing the Spartans for the starts of games. In both games so far, the Spartans fell deeply behind quickly. He used the term "discombobulated" to describe the team's first half play.
"We were confused. We couldn't get anything going," Germain said.
In each game, one Spartan has stepped up to be the offensive leader. In the season opener, it was sophomore Ty Madden. In this game, it was Piletich. Germain said there are a half-dozen players on the team capable of making this type of offensive impact.
One asset that turned this game in Somerset's favor was ball control. The Spartans were riddled by turnovers the past two seasons, but in this game they kept their turnover total down to 11. The Spartan defense was able to force St. Croix Falls into 17 turnovers, many in the second half.
Germain said the improvement in the second half was just a matter of the team relaxing.
"They went from thinking (in the first half) to playing and reacting. At both ends of the court they played hard," Germain said.
The Spartans begin their Middle Border Conference schedule this week with a pair of road games. Somerset will play at Amery on Friday, then travel to Osceola next Tuesday for games.