Boys Basketball: Spartans cruise past Tigers in victory

Strathmore defeats Woodlake 77-62 before falling to Farmersville 64-59 as they sit at 2-1 in the ESL

By Jermaine Johnson II

STRATHMORE – The Spartans have picked up right where they left off after a strong season last year. They have gotten out to a 13-5 start and are 2-1 in the ESL. 

They hosted Woodlake for their second league matchup of the season, and were in control for most of the game. They got out to a 7-0 start which prompted a timeout by the Tigers. They scored again before Woodlake could get their first two baskets of the night. It was 9-4 and then the Tigers went on another 8-0 run. The pace was set early, both teams wanted to run. According to Woodlake head coach Joel Chavez, his team needed to maintain that pace in order to keep up. 

“We know that Strathmore plays an aggressive full court press. We have to be fast and not let them press us,” he said. “Whenever we had to slow it down and they set up their press then it hurt us a ton.”

The fast pace led to some sloppy play from both teams. Players weren’t taking their time on their shots which led to a lot of misses. 

Strathmore head coach Justin St. Clair also embraced the fast pace. He is aware that his team doesn’t shoot a good percentage from the field, so he wants them to get up as many shots as possible. They led 17-5 after the first quarter, but it was the Tigers who narrowly won the second period by 3 points. Woodlake got the lead down to 7 points before St. Clair called a timeout to kill their momentum. The Tigers stayed persistent and got the lead down to 4 points before Strathmore knocked down some midrange jump shots to go up 34-25 at the half. 

According to St. Clair, his team plays in spurts which admittedly can be a bit frustrating. One moment they are playing superb and then the next moment they can’t buy a bucket or a stop. The former was true for the third quarter against the Tigers. Everything was going their way as they outscored their opponent 28-12. Their full court press defense forced Woodlake into several turnovers and the Spartans turned a lot of those steals into points. They went into the final period with a 62-37 lead.

St. Clair deemed his Spartan squad as the deepest team he’s coached since being at the school. He says its hard to give minutes to all 15 players, but he decided the large fourth quarter lead was enough of an opportunity to give his reserves some time. However, they didn’t last long in the game as the Tigers slowly began cutting into the lead, outscoring the Spartans by 10 points in the fourth quarter. At one point, they almost got the deficit down to 10 points.

“I was not really happy with the second rotation,” St. Clair said. “Those guys need quality minutes and they had an opportunity but did not take advantage of it. I was not happy about their energy and body language out there.”

Woodlake was not going down without a fight which forced the Strathmore starters to check back in with a couple of minutes left. They closed out the game and got the 77-62 victory.

After winning eight of nine games including their first two in the ESL, the Spartans fell to Farmersville 64-59 last Friday. Meanwhile Woodlake fell to Corcoran 110-74. Both teams played again on Tuesday, Jan. 14. The Spartans hosted Sierra Pacific while Woodlake hosted Granite Hills. The games concluded after press time.

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