Spartans Slay Raptors in 4A Playoff Battle
It might be still be late February, but the madness has already begun for mile high hoops. The first round of the state tournament, for both 4A and 5A teams, kicked off across the state Tuesday night.
The teams that carry win streaks into the post season are always dangerous sleepers, because momentum is massive in the month of March.
The 6th seeded Thomas Jefferson could be one those sleepers, after toppling the 11th seeded Silver Creek Raptors 52-32, winning their 5th game in a row, their longest wining streak of the season.
“We really gutted it out. I’m proud of our guys. We want to keep this streak going,” said Coach Grant Laman, in his tenth season as the Spartans head coach.
TJ started strong and finished even stronger. The Spartans outscored the Raptors 16-4 in the first quarter, and 19-5 in the fourth frame.
The Raptors clawed back in the second stanza, and cut the TJ lead to 20-15 at halftime.
“We got outscored badly the second quarter. We couldn’t score, and they turned it on,” said Laman, who won back-to-back state titles with the Spartans in 2005 and 2006.
The Spartans had a tough time containing Silver Creek’s leading scorer Patryck Minter-Woodley. The senior big man spearheaded the Raptors second quarter surge, and finished with game high 15 points.
“We made some halftime adjustments,” said Laman. “We did come out with a press (in the second half), and that seemed to change some things. It kept the ball out of his (Minter-Woodley) hands and that seemed to help.”
Both teams held serve in the third quarter, but TJ used a dominating fourth quarter run to transform a nail-biter into a blowout. With the Spartans clinging to a 33-29 early in the fourth quarter, Spartan sophomore Treyvon Andres swished a pivotal three-ball.
“I just came out with a spark. Coach said lets go and I went to work, ” said Andres, who scored 11 points, grabbed seven boards, and blocked three shots.
After the Andres the three, TJ then rattled off an impressive 18-0 run that put the Spartans up 51-29, well on their way to the second round of the state playoffs.
Spartans senior point guard Antonio Clark was a crucial component to the Spartans victory. He scored a team-high 13 points, dished out four assists, and swiped three steals. During the Spartans fourth quarter surge, Clark had a nifty take to the rack where he initiated contact, drew the foul, made the bucket, and knocked down the free throw.
The Spartans (11-13) elaborated on how they are playing their best basketball of the season right now, since sustaining a crushing double overtime loss to Montbello on February 9th.
“We have had a lot of adversity this year, and a lot of lows, like the double overtime loss to Montbello,” said Coach Laman. “But I finally felt we were a team after that loss. The next game is when we started our current streak. Maybe it’s 20 games late, but I’m glad we’re here.”
“After the Montbello game we have come together as a team and started playing well. Haven’t lost since. Now we got a head full of steam. Hopefully we can keep going to Boulder,” said Clark.
“We have banded together as a team to get where we are now,” said Andres, who was exuding an astounding amount of confidence after the victory.
“We are going to make it to the sweet 16, then the final four, and then go and win a championship.”
First things first – The Spartans will face a very capable Cheyenne Mountain team in the second round on Friday night.
It is win or go home from here on out. For hoops fans everywhere, this truly is the best time of the year.
The Spartans were very active defensively, forcing 16 Silver Creek turnovers and snatching 14 steals…The Spartans Nathan Brewer had a gigantic rejection on a Minter-Woodley dunk attempt in the first quarter…Jordan Roland had 11 points for TJ, knocking down three triples…Silver Creek had only one player in double figures (Minter-Woodley)…Treyvon Andres, one of the key players for TJ, came off the bench…Silver Creek tied the game at 20 early in the third quarter. That was the last time the game was tied…Both teams emptied their benches late in the game and the TJ crowd was going crazy for the subs… TJ hit eight 3’s in the contest. Silver Creek only hit two…