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FL boys hoops: Patriots’ defense limits Indians, 47-42


CHAUMONT — Coach Jeff Robbins knows this isn’t one of his best offensive teams at Sackets Harbor.

At times, the Patriots struggle to score and can’t find any offensive rhythm. But the one constant has been Sackets Harbor’s defense, one reason they are again leading the Frontier League “D’’ Division.

Friday night, the Patriots’ defense limited division scoring leader Troy Wilson of Lyme to a season-low 20 points and held the rest of the Indians to just 22 in a 47-42 victory.

Junior Colton Belcher scored 20 points for Sackets Harbor (9-2 overall, 8-1 league), which slowly built a lead and then had just enough offense to beat Lyme (5-6, 5-5) for the second time this season.

“Our defense has been impressive most of the season,” Robbins said. “We’ve played solid team defense and rebounded the ball pretty well. Some nights we score easily. Others not so well. But we need to get better on the offensive end if we hope to contend at the end of the season.”

Belcher said it’s been an offensive struggle since the Patriots missed so much practice and game time over a two-week stretch of the recent ice storm and then a snowstorm.

“We started the season out great with everything going well,’’ he said. “Then after that long break, it hasn’t been as good. But I think tonight’s game will be a big motivation for us going forward.’’

Sackets Harbor took a 10-9 lead after one quarter, with Wilson scoring all of his team’s points.

Wilson managed just four points in the second quarter as Josh Keruski defended him very well one-on-one, and the rest of the Patriots gave help when Wilson had the ball.

“I told Josh that we’re ready to help at any time,’’ Belcher said. “He did a really good job of making Wilson take difficult shots all night.’’

The Patriots’ lead was 24-18 at halftime, and they pulled away to a 37-27 edge after three quarters as Lyme managed just nine points in the quarter.

But Lyme also did a nice job on the defensive end, forcing a lot of sloppy Patriots’ turnovers and making Sackets Harbor take hurried shots.

“A defensive effort like that would normally be good enough,’’ Lyme coach Leo Wilson said. “But we just couldn’t score consistently tonight. I do give the kids credit for hanging in there and not letting the game get away.’’

Sackets Harbor held a comfortable lead most of the final quarter before Lyme made a late push to get within five points.

“We’re definitely a work in progress,’’ Robbins said. “Four underclassmen are playing a lot of minutes, so things haven’t been as consistent as we’d like. But we keep getting a little bit better and, hopefully, that will help in the sectionals.’’

Lyme’s main problem all year is getting some offensive help for Wilson, who is averaging nearly 26 points per game.

Second-leading scorer Tim Morrow, averaging 15 points, struggled offensively Friday, missing a lot of easy shots and scoring just nine points. He did, however, grab 15 rebounds while Wilson had seven boards.

“Sackets Harbor plays hard and makes you work for every point,’’ coach Wilson said. “But I thought we stayed aggressive and moved the ball OK. We just have trouble making shots if Troy isn’t hitting a lot.’’

This was a much better Lyme effort, however, than in the first meeting, a 67-46 loss to Sackets Harbor in the Charlie Bridge Tournament over the Christmas break.

“The kids know that was by far our worst performance of the year, so this one will make them feel a little better about themselves,’’ coach Wilson said.

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