An 0-3 start to the season wasn’t what sixth-year head coach Phil Yahnke and his Sparta boys’ basketball team were hoping for entering the 2021-2022 season.
A road matchup against Adam-Friendship this past Thursday gave the Spartans a chance to finally right the ship with their first win of the campaign.
After a back-and-forth game, Sparta (1-3) would leave as the victors over the Green Devils (0-2) following a nail-biting 53-52 non-conference win Thursday, December 2 in Adams.
Yahnke felt that the effort in the second half of their Mauston game last Tuesday was the reason they lost as they did.
After pulling off a one-point win over Adams-Friendship, Yahnke felt that the team really flipped it around to grab that elusive first victory.
“I was just so happy for the guys. They really worked hard,” he said. “We had a tough game the game before against Mauston and I didn’t feel our effort level wasn’t there when the going got tough.
“The way the team responded was just fantastic both individually and as a group. I really feel they played together as a team. They played really hard all 36 minutes.”
The team also improved in a lot of the areas that Yahnke felt they needed improvement in.
“Offense and defense togetherness were the two big improvements I wanted to see and that is exactly what I saw,” Yahnke said.
One area of improvement that the Spartans didn’t see was with their turnovers, something they have struggled with all season.
They would end the win over Adams-Friendship with 21 total turnovers.
“We had way too many turnovers again. Some of it is basketball skill but most it was decision making,” Yahnke said. “We have to continue to work on that. We will have a lot of videos to watch and the guys will have to do some on their own. We need to get better game by game. It is the game-by-game improvement, both individually and as a team, that can help us to improve in that area.”
Sparta did manage to grab 11 steals in the game and force 15 Adams-Friendship turnovers. The team had a night at the free-throw line, shooting 14 for 20. Sparta shot 7 for 20 from beyond the arc and finished the game with a 39 percent field goal percentage.
Junior Layden Bender would lead the team in scoring in the team’s first win of the season. Bender scored 15 points while adding 2 assists and 3 steals.
Sophomore Thomas Laufenberg had a nice night on the boards. Laufenberg scored 13 points but also had 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. The Spartans saw eight of the nine players who got minutes in the game score at least one point for the team.
The first win of the season for the Sparta boys’ basketball team was a hard-fought one. It was an earned reward for their efforts at improvement early in this season.
Yahnke felt the team took a step backward in the second half of the Mauston game and wanted to see that turned around in their Adams-Friendship game. It was the effort and energy that the Spartans showed throughout the game that impressed Yahnke the most.
With their first win under the belt, Sparta now tastes that winning feeling and is hungry for more. The team’s next game won’t be until Friday when Baraboo brings their talents to Sparta. The Thunderbirds are off to a 1-3 start to their 2021-22 season.
That non-conference contest between the two is set to get underway Tuesday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Sparta High School.
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