Boys Varsity Basketball · Sparkplugs hand Stars nine-point loss

Speedway – It is tough to come from behind on the road.

The Western Boone boys basketball team has found that out the hard way this week.

Two days after falling behind by double digits and not being able to come back at Frankfort, a similar problem hurt the Stars at Speedway. Western Boone fell behind by double-digits, and were unable to come back in the fourth quarter in a 71-62 loss to the Sparkplugs.

“The second half was tough because we set the tone in the first half by not playing to our strengths,” Western Boone head coach Bronson Lickliter said. “We allowed them to dictate the game and when you do that, you have to play catch-up the rest of the game. We do a good job of making things interesting, but we have struggled to get over the hump and maintain that kind of discipline and energy.”

While it was a an 11-2 run that really hurt the Stars in the third quarter, Lickliter said the tone was set in the first 16 minutes.

The Stars turned it over 11 times and trailed by four at the half. After two-straight games of slow starts, Lickliter said the team has to come out with more energy at the start of games.

“Our guys aren’t coming out with a whole lot of energy,” Lickliter said. “It may take me doing a ‘rah-rah’ speech or something like that, because I am not sure if it matters enough to them to come out with the type of energy necessary to take on a hungry team. Frankfort was a hungry team, and so was Speedway and we came in thinking we were just going to beat them. When you come into a game thinking that way, you are going to struggle.”

The game was close early, with Western Boone leading 12-9 until a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Speedway’s Chris Valentine.

Speedway would hit two more 3s in the second quarter, and used their penetration to go on a 10-2 run late in the half to take the lead for good.

Western Boone scored the first four points of the third quarter to tie the game at 30, but Speedway countered with an 11-2 run to take a 41-32 lead with 4:30 to go in the half.

“Defensively, we have to be a little better with our help and understand who their shooters are,” Lickliter said. “A couple of those kids that hit aren’t shooting a high percentage, but they did tonight. Maybe we over-helped and give them too long of an open look. Those are the things we can correct.”

The lead grew to as many as 11 with 2:03 to go, when the Stars started to mount a comeback.

Western Boone went on an 8-0 run, with six of the points coming from the free-throw line, go get within 48-45 late in the third.

They trailed by four after three, but Speedway went on a 7-2 spurt to start the second half to go back up nine, and Western Boone got no closer than seven the rest of the game.

Western Boone got to the free-throw line 20 times in the second half, making 15.

“In the second half especially, we got into the lane and were more aggressive,” Lickliter said. “We were the aggressors there. In the first half, we were tentative, and allowing ourselves to get trapped into turnovers. In the second half, we were more aggressive and got better looks. We didn’t hit some of the shots we normally hit, but we were able to keep being aggressive.”

Spencer Wright had 18 points and six rebounds to lead the Stars.

Peyton Young added 15 points, Lucas Morton had 12 and Connor Hole had 10.

Speedway’s Alex Moore had 20 points and six rebounds. Valentine had 18 points, with Kyle Smith adding 12. Dominque Hampton had seven points and 13 rebounds, 10 rebounds in the fourth quarter.

Western Boone is home again on Tuesday against Westfield.

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.