Posted on: December 3, 2020

After the original season opener was forced to cancel, due to Covid-19 issues, the Spartans were eager to tip it off against a tough GMC team, in the Oak Hills Highlanders.  Sophomore, Brady Hardewig, led all scorers with 16.  He was supported by 9 points from senior, Theisen Lee and 7 each from seniors, Ethan Zinn and Dominic Cantrella.  But in the end it was not enough to secure the win in a defensive, low scoring battle.   

Points were hard to come by early on.  It seemed there were lids on both rims, as balls rattled in and then out on several shots, for both teams.  It was not until the 3:36 mark of the first quarter when Dom Cantrella, took his man baseline for the hoop and the foul, to score the first points of the season and put the Spartans up 3-0.  Both teams continued to try and shake off the first-game jitters, while playing good defense and the quarter ended with an almost unbelievable score of 3-2.

In the second quarter, Oak Hills went on a small 6-0 run before Brady Hardewig hit his first and second three-pointers of the season.  With six seconds left in the half, Cantrella was fouled in the act and sank both free-throws to pull the home team to within one, at 12-11.  Oak Hills then took the ball the length of the court and appeared to have lost control and traveled before throwing up an awkward shot that somehow found its way to the basket, plus a foul.  It was clear that the refs were trying to shake off some jitters and rust of their own.  The half ended with the Spartans down 15-11. 

Early in the third, Ethan Zinn drained his first three and Theisen Lee began to heat up.  After hitting a nice jumper in the lane, Lee beat his man with a smooth spin move and earned an “and 1” to make it 23-18, in favor of the Highlanders.  Turpin put together a 7-2 run thanks to additional scores from Hardewig and Lee, to pull within one at 27-26.  Another controversial call came at the buzzer when Oak Hills was awarded a 3-shot foul.  They made two of three and took a 29-26 lead into the fourth quarter. 

With Cantrella on the bench in foul trouble, the Spartans opened the quarter with an 11-5 run.  Zinn set the tone with an aggressive block on defense, immediately followed by a three-pointer on the other end.  Senior, Matthew Johnson then blew by his defender for his first bucket of the season.  With the score tied at 34 and 1:50 remaining, Lee found Hardewig in the corner and he deposited a three to put the home team up 37-34.  After getting a defensive stop, Turpin tried to play keep-away, but missed the front end of a one and one.  Oak Hills then cored a basket to make it a one point game, 37-36 with 0:14 remaining.  Hardewig was fouled immediately and made both shots to stretch the lead back to three with 0:13 left.  Oak Hills would have the last possession.  The shooter came off of a pick and had a decent look at the basket for a three-point attempt.  The ball bounced harmlessly off the rim before the shooter fell to the floor, followed by a whistle.  A phantom foul was called, largely sold by the shooter collapsing after the shot, despite the lack of contact confirmed by replay.  After the first free-throw took a friendly bounce into the bottom of the net, the momentum had shifted.  It was followed by two swishes… We were heading to OT.  

From there the Spartans got behind by four and could not find an offensive rhythm.  By the time, they scored their first and only basket in the overtime period, it was just window dressing, as they fell to the Highlanders, 46-41.  Turpin takes it on the road, looking for their first W of the season, against Lebanon on Friday.   

Hardewig: 16pts / 1 assist / 3 rebounds / 1 steal

Lee: 9pts / 3 assists / 6 rebounds / 1 steal / 1 block

Zinn: 7pts / 5 rebounds / 1 steal / 2 blocks

Cantrella:  7pgs / 2 assists / 3 rebounds / 3 steals

Johnson: 2pts / 3 rebounds / 1 steal