The McConnellsburg Spartans boys basketball team used lockdown defense and a strong third quarter to defeat the Fannett-Metal Tigers 76-50 on Friday night.
The Tigers (8-8, 5-6 Sideling Hill League, 4-5 Inter-County Conference) started the game scorching hot on offense, jumping to a 23-12 lead over the Spartans (13-3, 10-1 SHL, 8-1 ICC) in the first quarter. Fannett-Metal's leading scorer Mikell McGee, who scored 55 points Tuesday night, led the way with 10 first-quarter points.
"Our signature is our defense, and you wouldn't be able to tell that from our first quarter tonight," said McConnellsburg senior Chase Novak, who was tasked with guarding McGee for most of the night. "The first quarter was embarrassing, so after that we knew we had to dig in and I think we played excellent defense for the rest of the game."
The Spartans began trimming the Tiger lead in the second quarter and eventually took a one-point lead going into the half thanks to stellar offensive play from Novak. He dominated in the second quarter, outscoring Fannett-Metal by himself, 14-10, while holding McGee to only two points.
"Gotta give it to Fannett-Metal - they played their butts off tonight and had us on the ropes for that first half," McConnellsburg coach Drew Washabaugh said, "We were settling for a lot of jump shots in the first half and then finally started attacking the basket more and getting to the line."
Things got worse for the Tigers as the Spartans came out of halftime with momentum and blanketed Fannett-Metal, going on a 22-4 third-quarter run. McConnellsburg never let its lead go below double digits after that.
McConnellsburg knew that McGee, who averages almost 29 points per game, would be the primary scorer for Fannett-Metal and knew that containing the senior would put the Tigers' offense in a tough spot.
"We looked to help on him and did our best to defend as a team," Washabaugh said, "It wasn't just Novak's responsibility, it was everyone's responsibility and we had to constantly know where he was at."
Novak said, "We know he's one of the best players in the area and that it was going to be a team effort. It wasn't going to be just me shutting him down, we had to rely on help defense and double teams to hold him below his average."
And the Spartans did just that, holding McGee to 20 points. Also scoring in double figures for the Tigers was Austin Raymer, with with 12 points.
Chance Hawbaker also had a strong game for the Spartans, finishing with 20 points, while Novak ended up with 24 points, including three 3-pointers.