A somber end

Last night, the Spartans lost a heartbreaking game to Fort Zumwalt South by a score of 62-56. Before the game, seniors Ryan Howard and Derrick Puni gave their thoughts on how to approach Zumwalt South.

The Spartans faced a daunting challenge last night, taking on the 19-6 Zumwalt South Bulldogs. Despite the tournament being held at Central, the Spartans were the visiting team due to their lower seed.

With the stands packed with hundreds of fans from both schools cheering their respective teams on, the game started off with junior Tre Curry run all the way down and score to put Central on the board. Trying to use a full court press, the Bulldogs tried to prevent players such as Puni and Howard from getting the ball. Zumwalt South tried to rally back in the first, but costly turnovers and blocked shots prevented that, and at the end of the first quarter, the Spartans led 20-13.

On the sideline, Coach Larry Anders was yelling furiously, trying to get his team motivated and spark some rage into his players. They won the first quarter, but the game had just begun.

The second quarter started off with a blocked shot by senior Terel Tipton, which led to Howard scoring two. This quarter, however, was marred by holes in the defense, which allowed Zumwalt South to gain momentum and inch closer to the lead. With three minutes left in the second, South was able to pull within one point, and with two minutes left, they gained the lead for the first time.

The offense from Zumwalt South was patient with its shots and frequently passing the ball around. When the first half ended, the Spartans still had the lead, but it was only by one point.

An irate Anders tried to motivate his starters, who were beginning to look exhausted, and went over certain plays he believed would help the team regain control. The Spartans came out with aggression in their eyes, and determination in their hearts. Zumwalt South, however, started the quarter strong, scoring with their first shot, regaining the lead.

Curry, however, would not back down, storming right through the Bulldog’s defense, and making a key three pointer as the crowd went crazy. Fouls in the third quarter proved costly for both teams, because for South, it caused them to lose momentum, and for Central, it damaged their chances to regain the lead. Curry committed a costly foul in the third which allowed South to regain possession of the ball, angering Anders, as he had hoped Central would gain some momentum. As the third quarter came to a close, the Bulldogs had a six-point lead, 45-39.

The fourth quarter started off with South marching down the court and scoring, and a shootout was about to emerge. Both teams made key shots to keep the game within reach, as the players on the Spartans’ sideline tried to pump up the starters, and keep their spirits up. A critical foul by junior Blake Kreder allowed South to make two free throws, increasing their lead to five. Howard and Curry would strike back, with the former making a three pointer, followed by a game-tying shot by the latter.

However, exhaustion began to set in, and as the Spartans began to wear down, the Bulldogs began to heat up. With less than two minutes to go, the Spartans had no choice but to purposely foul South to stop the clock. Tears started to roll down the eyes of Puni and Desir, as their careers had officially ended.

South defeated Central 62-56, and as the clock ran down, the Spartan faithful began chanting “thank you seniors!” to show compassion and gratitude for their fellow Spartans. When the game officially ended, the seniors began hugging their friends who came down to comfort them, as they had played their final game.

With tears rolling down his face, Puni had only one thing to say about his team and experience playing basketball.

“I want to say that I love my team and this is one of the best teams I have ever been a part of,” Puni said.

Coach Anders, who was visibly upset after the loss, believed the team played strong, but it just wasn’t enough.

“We came out strong, played very hard, and we had a great first half,” Anders said. “We struggled for some reason, however, in the second half and that cost us.”

Anders went on to say that he believed the defense really stepped up in the game, and that the team never gave up fighting.

“I just want to thank the seniors for all their work, and I’m sorry their careers had to end this way,” Anders said. “They set the tone for years to come, and I’m very proud of them.”