Boys Basketball: Strathmore Spartans survive Lindsay Cardinals’ comeback attempt

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Strathmore wins only second game in four seasons on Lindsay’s home court

By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

LINDSAY – One of the toughest places for the Strathmore Spartans to get a win is in the gym of their arch rivals, the Lindsay Cardinals. It has only happened twice over the past four seasons, and their most recent victory last Wednesday felt more like a survival. Strathmore led 42-19 at halftime, but ended up winning by only three points, 62-59.

“You have to give Lindsay credit,” Strathmore head coach Justin St. Clair said. “They’ve had a tough year, but those boys know how to fight. We are very fortunate to get out of here with this kind of a win.”

It was truly a tale of two halves between the Spartans (19-8, 7-5) and the Cardinals (3-25, 1-11). Strathmore’s Josue Topete led the charge with 13 first half points from the point guard position. His ability to command the offense, and to see the open lane led to five made layups.

“He is so athletic,” Strathmore head coach Justine St. Clair said. “Even when teams press him, he just blows by people.”

Strathmore seemed to feed off Topete’s energy as their offense and defense were on point. Offensively Topete was not the only one scoring but was joined by nine other Spartans who scored in the first half. Some even scoring on fast breaks after their full-court press caused a turnover. A big contributor to their 23 point halftime lead.

In the second half everything that went right for Strathmore went wrong. They saw their lead dwindle to 10 points, 42-32, in the first four minutes.

Things went from bad to worse for Strathmore in the next 11 seconds. Topete, who had been held scoreless in the third quarter rolled his left ankle on his way down from shooting. He did not return.

“He is not one to come out of a game, so he definitely has an injury going on,” St. Clair said.

Strathmore is already thin at the point guard position with their replacement already suffering from an ankle injury. St. Clair hopes with ice and rest Topete will be able to go during the first round of playoffs this week.

It has been a problem this year for Strathmore to start coasting at certain parts of the game according to St. Clair, and against Lindsay, they might as well had thrown blood in the water.

After Topete left the game Lindsay went on 9-2 run with Mohamed Kourain accounting for five of those points to end the third quarter.

Lindsay kept their deficit of 10 points, 53-43 in tact heading into the fourth quarter. A couple free throws by Issac Munoz tied up the score at 55-55. It was the first time both teams were tied since the beginning of the game.

Munoz then stole the ball on Strathmore’s inbounds pass and sent it up to Kourain for a layup giving Lindsay their first lead of the game 57-55.

Both teams traded leads for the rest of the game until Lindsay’s Abel Dominguez missed a three-point shot that would have tied the game at the buzzer.

“I was really proud of the effort in the second half,” Lindsay head coach Frank Morin said. “For us to end the game with that kind of pride, and we are able to hang our hats on next year.”

Strathmore was the only boys basketball team from the foothills area to qualify for the postseason. They earned the No. 8 seed in the Division V bracket. Last night, they hosted the No. 9-seeded Parlier Panthers. Results for that game were reached after press time.

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