PHILADELPHIA A matchup of the top two defensive teams in Frontier League girls basketball didnt disappoint on Saturday.
In the end, the leagues top defensive team of the past decade, South Jefferson, outlasted Indian River in the physical, low-scoring battle that everyone expected.
Sophomore Marisa Clark scored eight of her career-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, and the Spartans earned a 44-24 crossover victory over the Warriors at Indian River High School.
We got a win, but that was not a Rembrandt, South Jefferson coach Pat Bassett said.
Thats a great game for us tonight to learn (that) we need to get tougher, he added.
Austin Stevens added 17 points and grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds for South Jefferson, which improved to 7-0 overall, and stayed unbeaten in league play since the 2008-09 season.
We knew it was going to be a physical game, both teams are very strong, said Stevens, who scored 10 of South Jeffersons 19 first-half points. I think we both knew it was going to be a battle.
Led by Clarks late surge, the Spartans outscored the Warriors 15-3 over the final quarter to break the game open. South Jefferson led by eight entering the fourth, and opened the quarter with 10 unanswered points.
Weve been looking for some more offense, were a little offensively challenged right now, Bassett said. (Clark) played the game of her career offensively.
Clark, who added seven rebounds, did most of her damage off the dribble and converted on her last five shot attempts. Her previous high was 12 points in the season opener in a win over Watertown High School.
Their close-outs were aggressive, so I had to rack it and (throw) a lot of shot fakes, Clark said.
Brooke VanCoughnett provided eight rebounds and seven assists for the Spartans.
Indian River, which was allowing 26.75 points per game, held South Jefferson to its lowest scoring output of the season. But the 24 points scored by the Warriors (7-2 overall, 5-1 league) was also a season low.
The Spartans were allowing a league-low 22 points per game entering Saturday. The Warriors starting lineup combined for just 11 points.
If we can give up 44 points, we should be in the ball game, but we just have to score more, Indian River coach Jim Whitley said. Their defense did a very good job of taking us out of our offensive sets, and that obviously affected our point production. But we didnt really have anybody that stepped up on offense.
The game was deadlocked at seven apiece midway through the second quarter, at which point the Spartans began to get some easy baskets in transition to build a slight lead and end the half up 19-12.
The Warriors hung around, keeping their deficit around 10 points or less, until the Spartans pulled away to start the fourth.
Kammikia Barnes and Ashlynn Borce each came in off the bench to lead Indian River with seven and six points, respectively.
This was the challenge for us, Whitley said. We really did not play as well as I thought we could play, but I give South Jeff credit for that. Tremendous defense, very well-coached.
The teams will meet again on Jan. 29 in Adams in what will be Indian Rivers regular-season finale.
Hopefully we will have improved offensively and maintained our defensive pressure, and it should be a heck of a game, Whitley said.