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“I think we came out focused tonight,” said Clever head coach Luke Brosius. “Last week was tough, losing those two with Hollister and Billings. I felt like the last couple days of practice, we’ve really done a good job, especially defensively. We’ve got to get refocused at what kind of level we expect to play at on the defensive end, and tonight I think showed that a little bit, especially on the boards.”
Sparta would only have one offensive rebound at halftime.
“Offensively, we didn’t get many second chances tonight,” said Sparta head coach Ryan Worley. “They are athletic and they are a good rebounding team. I want to give them so much of the credit because of the way they play. I didn’t feel that we crashed the boards as hard as we could have, especially early on.”
Knowing that Sparta was a big, physical team, Clever wanted to take advantage of their speed early and often during the game, especially with injured Dalton Fisher unable to play.
“We knew Sparta was big and physical,” said Brosius, “and that’s something that we’ve struggled with at times this year, matching up with big, physical teams. I thought we did a great job of that, coming out focused to take care of business, especially with one of our leaders not being able to play tonight. I think it gives them confidence that we can win a game like this without him at times.”
“It was a tough one,” said Worley. “Clever is loaded as far as how they play. They’re really good offensively, they pass the ball quickly and then get the shots they want. They just broke us down on defense. They are very disciplined and don’t take a bad shot. That’s a credit to their coach and the system and style they play.”
Sparta would play even with Clever in the second-half, but the deficit was too much for them to overcome.
“I told the boys at halftime, we just needed to come out and compete. I think we did that,” said Worley. Junior Robert May would lead the Trojans with 16 points on the night.
Eight players would score for Clever, which allowed Brosius to give some other players some varsity minutes.
“These kids work hard every day in practice and they deserve some time, too,” said Brosius. “We’re glad that we could do that. We had a couple seniors tonight that got to play a little bit more than they had this year, and they played well.”Clever would go on to win the game, 63-38, with the bench playing most of the fourth quarter, giving those players valuable experience for the upcoming district tournament.
Clever 19 18 14 12 -63
Sparta 4 13 9 13 -38
Clever—Matt Hamilton-14, Jared Albright-12, Travis Pennewell-11, Colton Pemberton-9, Ryan Farmer-7, Dawson Little-4, Kelton Deulen-3, Chase Thomas-3.
Sparta—Robert May-16, Zack Pellham-6, Trey Davis-5, Jacob Shipman-4, Matt Hayes-3, Tristan Eaton-2, Levi Dixon-2.