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South Jefferson boys, girls each come out on top

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ADAMS — Tom Bassett’s high school career has been filled with plenty of great team memories and superb individual performances. But the one thing the South Jefferson senior guard lacked on his All-Star resume was a Section 3 victory.

Check that one off. Bassett scored 21 of his game-high 33 points in the second half Tuesday night, helping lead top-seeded South Jefferson to a come-from-behind 70-63 Class B quarterfinal win over No. 8 Bishop Grimes.

The Spartans (18-1) will play either No. 5 Sherburne-Earlville or No. 12 Holland Patent in the Class B semifinals at either noon or 2 p.m. Sunday at the new SRC Arena on the campus of Onondaga Community College.

Senior center Jacob Worden added 21 points for South Jefferson, which trailed almost the entire game before rallying over the final 10 minutes. The Spartans then went 10-for-10 at the foul line in the fourth quarter to earn a huge victory.

“The key was our persistence,’’ said Bassett, who scored 10 consecutive points at the end of the third quarter to give his club a 48-47 lead. “When we got down we just kept fighting and scrapping. And when we finally took the lead, we dug down and got some key stops.’’

South Jefferson coach Fred Piche said his club “showed their grit tonight against a really good team. We had to make a lot of great plays just to stay in that game. I told people before the game Tom and Jacob needed to have huge games for us to win, and they did.’’

After trailing 17-12 after one quarter and 33-30 at halftime, the Spartans were down by five points with two minutes left in the third quarter when Bassett went wild.

He began a 10-point run by banking in a 3-pointer from the top of the key. After making a free throw, Bassett drained a deep three, then finished off the period with another three as the shot clock expired.

“That last one I put my fist up in the air to fool Grimes into thinking we were running a play, and I just pulled up and fired,’’ Bassett said. “On the bank shot, I told the guy guarding me I called it.’’

In a back-and-forth final quarter, Worden’s jumper put South Jefferson on top 58-57 with 2:25 remaining.

Sophomore guard Connor Evans, who led the Cobras (12-8) with 24 points, then hit two free throws to put Grimes ahead again.

Spartans junior forward Bobby Lees then came off a screen and hit a huge 3-pointer — his only basket of the night – to boost South Jefferson into a 61-59 advantage.

“That three by Bobby was huge,’’ Piche said. “We actually practice that play all the time.’’

Following a Tom Steinberg layup that tied the game at 61-all, Bassett calmly fired in another deep 3-pointer at the 49.4-second mark.

Bassett hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 30 seconds left as did Worden 10 seconds later. The Spartans came up with steals on Grimes’ final two possessions, and Bassett sealed the win with two more foul shots.

“They had a lot of offensive weapons, and we didn’t do a great job of recovering (on defense) until it really counted,’’ Piche asid. “Kraig (Steele) did a tremendous job on their leading scorer (Casey Evans).’’

As for keeping his playing career going, Bassett said “it feels awesome. Now we want to go all the way.’’

SOUTH JEFFERSON GIRLS 60, SKANEATELES 36

Spartans’ coach Pat Bassett wasn’t sure if his club was worthy of contending for another Section 3 title despite 17 straight wins and a lofty, seventh-place state ranking this week.

After Tuesday’s 60-36 rout of a good Skaneateles team in the Class B quarterfinals, Bassett changed his mind.

Sophomore Clarissa Perry hit seven 3-pointers, finishing with 21 points, as top-ranked South Jefferson (18-0) advanced to the semifinals on Saturday at either 6:30 or 8 p.m. at the SRC Arena at Onondaga CC. The Spartans will play No. 4 Cazenovia, a 47-45 winner over Sherburne-Earlville on Tuesday.

Junior Austin Stevens added 14 points and senior Brooke VanCoughnett netted 10 as the Spartans raced to a 16-point halftime lead. South Jefferson hit 10 3-pointers to just two for the No. 8 Lakers (14-6).

“We hadn’t played in two weeks and we hadn’t been really tested so there were questions if we were for real,’’ said Bassett, whose team has won nine of the past 11 Class B titles. “The way we played tonight, offensively and defensively, convinced me we are pretty good and have a chance to win again.’’

Perry said the most important thing now is “to give ourselves a chance to win another sectional title. The way we handle the pressure will determine how far we go.’’

South Jefferson’s staunch defense limited the much bigger Lakers to just 12 field goals, and the Spartans held a six-rebound advantage.

“We’re using to being smaller, so we just fight for every rebound,’’ Perry said. “The key tonight was our ball movement because I had a lot of wide-open shots.’’




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