Sparta takes controls in OT, tops Greenwood


By Denise Tucker/For

Tiffany Lafferty scored the first basket to open the overtime session and it was off to the races for the Sparta Trojans in their 56-45 overtime victory over the host Greenwood Lady Bluejays on Monday night.

On two separate possessions in the final minute of regulation, Sparta worked the ball for the last shot. And with time winding down, the Trojans got off a 3-pointer that missed at the buzzer, and the two teams headed to overtime knotted at 43.

But it was all Sparta in overtime, as the Trojans outscored Greenwood 13-2.


“In overtime, we made a slight adjustment in our defense,” Sparta coach Josh Loveland said. “Our guards had been playing more out on the wings, and the middle of our 2-3 (zone) was coming up and taking the high post. We had our guards shift in and out on the high post and dropped our middle person back down underneath the basket.

“It did a couple of things; it took away the middle for them, and it also gave us a better shot at (preventing) offensive rebounds, which I thought was really key there in the overtime.”

Also key was Lafferty, who scored 14 of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime for Sparta, which improved to 5-13 on the season.

“She played really well,” Loveland said of Lafferty. “She and Liz Yeager have been key for us on offense. When the two of them are hitting shots, we’ve got a pretty good chance of winning. When they’re not hitting shots, we’re in trouble.”

And Lafferty came up with some big shot when the Trojans needed them.

“Tiffany stepped up and hit a big 3 there toward the end of the fourth quarter to put us up one (43-42) at the time,” Loveland said. “She hit some big free throws in the fourth quarter, as well, and just capped it off in overtime.”

The two teams were neck-and-neck throughout the game, trading baskets, with the biggest lead coming in the fourth quarter when Sparta took a 36-30 lead with about five minutes to go.

But Greenwood fought back and went on an 8-0 run to pull ahead 38-36 with 3:20 remaining. And it was more back-and-forth until Lafferty hit a 3-pointer for a 43-42 Sparta lead. Meredith Montgomery hit the front end of a 1-and-1 to tie it at 43 and send it to overtime.

And that is when Sparta took over.

“We had two bad possessions at the wrong time; lost a couple of players when we shouldn’t have, and in a close game like that, you just can’t leave people, can’t lose people,” Greenwood coach Kent Hedgpeth said.

“They hit a couple of shots they had been missing off of our trap,” Hedgpeth said of Sparta. “They got loose and hit a couple of 3s and got some space, and we just made some bad choices on offense and next thing you know, you’re down eight.”

It was at that point – with 1:37 to go in the game – that Montgomery was whistled for her fifth foul.

“We were down and she (Montgomery) had a chance to score and ends up missing and fouls over the back,” Hedgpeth said. “If she makes that, and goes to the line, it’s a three-point game. That’s how close it was.”

Breann Anderson hit both free throws to give Sparta a 51-43 lead, and the Trojans closed out the victory.

Yeager added 10 points for Sparta. Meredith Sharp paced Greenwood with 14 points, and Katherine Ulmer added 12 for the Lady Jays, who fell to 6-8.

Nonconference game 

SPARTA – 10-5-15-13-13—56
GREENWOOD – 6-7-15-15-2—45

SPARTA (5-13) – Tiffany Lafferty 23, Kamryn Gilley 10, Liz Yeager 9, Breann Anderson 8, Jadrien Hyatt 4, Genesis McTeer 2.
GREENWOOD (6-8) – Meredith Sharp 14, Katherine Ulmer 12, Meredith Montgomery 8, Averi Kessler 7, Fallon Yarnell 4.

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