ADAMS Can it be that a team which started the season 10-0, won eight of its games by at least 17 points and has five solid starters be flying under the radar?
In South Jeffersons case, the answer is yes. But after Tuesday nights 75-47 Frontier League crossover wipeout of visiting Watertown, Fred Piches club may no longer be able to go unnoticed.
The Spartans made it 11 straight wins (10 in the league) by racing to a 24-6 first-quarter lead, and putting the game away by halftime with a 44-23 edge.
South Jeffersons aggressive man-to-man defense turned WHS turnovers into easy hoops, the Spartans hit nine 3-pointers, including one by five different players, and Piche received solid contributions from several players to deal the Cyclones (5-5, 5-2) their second consecutive loss.
Beating Watertown is always a signature win, said Piche. I dont think we could play any better than that first half. I had a feeling after we made those first couple shots that it was going to be our night.
Tom Bassett, who led all scorers with 23 points, started the game by hitting a 3-pointer for South Jefferson. Mitch Modlin added two free throws, then a fast-break lay-up to make it 7-1 a minute into the game.
It was 11-6 when South Jefferson turned up the defensive pressure and overwhelmed the Cyclones. The Spartans scored the final 13 points of the quarter, including eight by Ryan Clark, then extended their run to 20-0 in the second quarter to make it 31-6.
Clark, a senior guard, had a superb all-around game with 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Piche said he and Bassett are playing as well as anybody in the league.
Those two kids are special, Piche said. But weve really got six starters (junior center Jacob Worden comes off the bench) who regularly contribute. We dont rely on just one or two kids, so when one guy is the cold the others can pick him up.
Clark said South Jeffersons defensive intensity set the tone for the whole game.
When we work that hard on defense, it just makes everything else work, Clark said. Weve been playing great team ball, and everybodys been chipping in. Hopefully, we can keep it going.
Matt Bero contributed 10 points, Modlin nine and Zach Zimmerman had eight for South Jefferson, which owns a couple of nice B Division wins over General Brown and a non-league victory over Holland Patent so far.
Our defense always jump-starts the offense, Piche said. We want to score as quickly as we can, then play solid defense.
Dustin Pond scored 20 points for WHS, but like most games he was the only offense. The Cyclones defensive rotations were also slow, and they failed to get back on the break too many times.
Our game plan was to give Pond his points and to keep him off the glass, said Clark. We did a good job early, and really made him work hard for his points.
Looking ahead, the Spartans could easily still be unbeaten when they host A Division leader Indian River in a make-up game on Feb. 2 to end the regular season.
Were not looking past Beaver River on Friday, though, said Piche. But I like how were playing, and the way our intensity is there every game.