The two fourth- and fifth-grade teams in green, the Ducks and Spartans, met in a match Jan. 31 at Langston Hughes Elementary that set the audience aflame with cheers and groans. In a heated game with numerous lead changes, the Spartans managed to pull out a win against the Ducks, 28-25, and advance to the next round of the Hoopster postseason tournament.
"It wasn't one of our better performances," Spartan coach Dan Hearnen said. "We were getting good looks at the shots, but they just plain outplayed us. I know we can do better."
The Ducks came out early in the game, putting the pressure on the Spartans. Duck Lucas Warner managed to steal the ball and bring it back for the first shot of the game.
Not to be left behind, Austin Abbott managed to land a free throw, then Dayton Valentine received an assist to give the Ducks a more definitive lead early on in the first. Duck Kennedy Kirkpatrick was fouled and landed one shot to cap off the Ducks 5-0 run in what was beginning to seem like a run-away game for the Ducks.
The Spartans quickly turned it around when Chris Heller fed the ball to Sam Hearnen for a layup to finish out the first quarter, 5-3.
Kane Eggers opened the second quarter landing a jumper and tying the game. However, Kirkpatrick wasn't about to let the Ducks roll over when she faded back for a three-point shot of the backboard.
The two teams pummeled each other with attempted shots and steals, but the hoop didn't get much action as the teams had issues finding the bottom of the net. The Ducks began to get frustrated with their missed shots and committed multiple silly fouls, giving the Spartans some light.
The Spartans managed to tie the game once again after landing a free throw. Alex Green then gave the Spartans their first lead of the game, hitting a shot seconds before the end of the first half. The Spartans ended the half in better shape than they came in, ahead 16-13.
The third period was witness to mad scrambling for the ball, with neither team managing to take clear control of the game. The Ducks struck first in the quarter when Valentine landed a layup.
The Spartans answered back, but the Ducks held their ground with a clear intent to regain their lead.
The dynamic duo of Heller and Hearnen took control on the Spartans' offensive end after Heller fired the ball to Hearnen for an easy shot, regaining the lead.
The period went back and forth with five lead changes before the Spartans went on an 8-2 run to end the quarter on top 23-19.
Kirkpatrick pressed for a shot, but was fouled shortly into the fourth. She was able to hit the free throws, keeping the Ducks in step with the Spartans and entered into the last quarter with a newfound energy.
Despite the Duck's refocus, the team in green and yellow just couldn't seem to pull it together until Valentine tied the game with 4 1/2 minutes remaining. Warner complemented his teammates shot, hitting a long jumper for the lead.
Austin Abbot retied the game for the Spartans by sinking the free throw. With a minute left in the game, Green managed to land one more for the Spartans, sealing the deal with a win, 28-25.
"We played good defense," Spartan Lee McMahon said. "But, we did have some bad passes and our shots didn't go in. I think we hustled though."