Boys Varsity Basketball · Stars can’t slow Sparkplugs in OT loss

Feb 13, 2020

SPEEDWAY – The Western Boone offense is clicking right now.

That was evident again Thursday night when they scored 81 points and had four players in double figures against Speedway.

But the other end of the court hasn’t been nearly as friendly. The Sparkplugs shot 54.9% from the field, scored nearly 40 points better than their season average and topped Western Boone 83-81 in overtime.

“You can definitely tell that when we turn it on defensively, we can be pretty good,” Western Boone head coach Josh Burkett said. “You can also tell when we are uninterested on the defensive side of the ball. We have gotten into a groove where we can score pretty well, now it’s a matter of if we are going to figure it out defensively. That’s going to decide whether or not we are successful in March. Tonight wasn’t good enough and the guys know that.”

The Stars used a fourth-quarter comeback to force overtime and give themselves a chance to win.

Down five at the start of the quarter, Jonathan McAtee had back-to-back baskets to start a 7-2 spurt, which allowed the Stars to tie the game on a 3-pointer by Cortez Stoudemire with 6:32 to go.

Spencer Wright hit a 3 with 3:00 to go to give Western Boone its first lead since the first half at 62-61, but Speedway countered with a 7-0 run to lead 68-62 with 1:01 to play.

Wright hit a 3 eight seconds later, then stole the in-bounds pass and laid it in to bring the Stars within 68-67.

Speedway hit two free throws with 41.3 to go, but Connor Hole tied the game with 13.7 seconds left and Speedway’s game-winning shot attempt in the final seconds went awry.

Wright led the team with 24 points, with Stoudemire adding 17.

But the better news for the Stars was getting 12 from both McAtee and Hole.

“Connor and Jonathan scored pretty well tonight, but we just need more defense,” Burkett said. “That has to be our focused. Cortez and Spencer will always be there, but Connor has stepped up some game, Jake (Jones) has stepped up, Jonathan and Caleb (Freeman) too. But we have to get better defensively. That’s where it starts and ends for us right now.”

Western Boone led 75-73 in the overtime after a 3-pointer by McAtee with 2:12 left, but Speedway scored the next six points to go up 79-75 thanks to four-straight misses on the foul line from the Stars.

Hole hit a deep 3 with 29.5 to go and after two Speedway free throws the Stars had a chance at the tie, but McAtee’s 3-pointer missed and the Sparkplugs closed the game out from there.

The Stars comeback attempt was needed after a poor end to the second quarter.

Western Boone led 21-17 with 5:57 to go in the half, but Speedway went on a 14-0 run to lead 31-21 after hitting 3s on three-straight possessions.

Western Boone cut it to seven by the half, but trailed by as many as 14 in the third quarter before starting to chip away.

Speedway shot 70 percent in the second half.

“A lot of teams are getting basket-area shots on us and they are barely contested,” Burkett said. “They had a couple of really good guards, and they are just going around us and half the time we are running into each other. That can’t happen with one, seniors, and two, at the end of the year. It’s something we have figure it out.”

Western Boone is now 8-9 on the year after back-to-back losses.

They start a string of their final three regular season home games against Zionsville on Saturday night and then Westfield on Tuesday.

“We are going to have to ready and bring our ‘A’ game,” Burkett said. “I think we can compete in both of those games. Tri-West beat Westfield and Zionsville has some injuries. We have the athletes to play defense, they just have to want to. Hopefully they figure it out and bounce back on Saturday.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter and Zionsville Times Sentinel. Follow him on Twitter