South County may not be undefeated any more, but that might make the Stallions even more dangerous.
On Tuesday night the Stallions displayed resilience, consistency, and energy on both offense and defense to defeat host West Springfield 73-61 in the Stallions’ Patriot District opener.
“They played hard,” coach Mike Robinson said of his team, which had lost its last two games. “It was an improvement over the last three to four games where I felt we lost our intensity, kind of lost our edge. I have a young team, it’s good to kind of take lumps and learn from mistakes. I’m okay with that as long as they play hard like tonight.”
While the Stallions are very talented, they had to play hard against a West Springfield team that was primed to try and pull off the upset at home in front of a raucous crowd. South County led most of the way early, but the Spartans stayed within striking range for much of the game. West Springfield star guard Gabriel Kier looked like he might be in for a big night with 12 efficient points by halftime, and the home team was doing a fairly good job containing Stallions star center Quentin Millora-Brown and the South County offense.
After getting stifled in the lane early by the 6’10” Millora-Brown and 6’7″ Jake Latta, the Spartans were even having some success in the paint. Three minutes into the third quarter Spartans reserve forward Peyton Dexter sank two free throws after getting fouled on a hook shot down low. At that point the score was 37-31, South County, and it looked like the game might stay tight the whole way.
That was as close as West Springfield would get, though. Xa’Vian Miles was fouled on a runner and converted a three-point play. After a defensive stop Millora-Brown then got the ball in prime post position down low to convert a lay-up. Then Millora-Brown stole the ball and got it back after some nifty touch passes for a slam and a foul. After he made a free throw South County was up 45-31 and the Spartans were on their heels.
The Stallions never looked back. Robinson kept an aggressive full court press on for the rest of the game, making West Springfield work hard for everything. The Stallions’ lightning-quick guards took care of the ball and forced the Spartans to foul a lot late. South County (1-0, 10-2) shot almost 75% from the line and that was enough to seal the victory.
Millora-Brown led the way with 15 points, nine boards and three assists. While he’s the obvious focal point of the Stallions’ attack, one thing that makes South County so dangerous is its depth. All ten players who played Tuesday night scored, with a lot of nice games across the board. Noah Bullock had 10 points and seven assists, while fellow starters Branden Powe, Latta and Myles all had eight points. Junior guard Donovan Myles chipped in nine off the bench.
“It’s hard when you have 13 guys who can play,” Robinson said. “It’s kind of hard to find a rotation for all 13, but we play together and that’s a good thing. Makes my job more difficult, but the harder the kids make my job with finding minutes for everybody the better off we’ll all be.”
Kier finished with 19 points for West Springfield (0-2, 3-9), but had a harder time getting scoring opportunities in the second half. Guards Nebiyu Girma and Sam Treasure had 12 and 11 points respectively, while Dexter did a nice job off the bench with eight points and five boards.
all stats are unofficial
|Threes: Kier 2-3, Dexter 2-5, Girma 1-2, Treasure 0-1, Kett 0-1|
|Threes: Dunn 1-1, Wilson 1-2, Kellem 1-2, Bullock 1-3, Powe 1-3, X. Myles 1-5, D. Myles 0-1|