PHILADELPHIA The South Jefferson girls basketball team hasnt lost to a Frontier League opponent in the regular season since the final days of the Bush Administration.
And while that streak was in jeopardy more than ever on Thursday night, the Spartans escaped with a 50-48 crossover victory over Indian River.
Austin Stevens scored a game-high 17 points while fellow seniors Jenny McLean and Marissa Garland came through with timely buckets to lift South Jefferson (4-0 overall, 4-0 league).
These games are a lot better for us than playing games where were blowing people out, Stevens said. In the long run, its definitely better for us to play games like this. I know I learned some things from this game and Im sure some other people did too.
The two-point margin of victory is South Jeffersons smallest during its five-year league winning streak, and it was just the third game decided by single digits in the past three seasons.
The Spartans beat General Brown by five points on Saturday.
I walked in at halftime and my kids were silent, like they didnt know what to do, South Jefferson coach Pat Bassett said. Theyre not used to being behind. And I said Enjoy this. This is what basketball is supposed to be like.
Despite a five-day layoff for both teams because of a snowstorm, the game was a fast-paced, back-and-forth affair that was tied at 36 points apiece with six minutes left.
McLean then hit a 3-point field goal for South Jefferson, just her second of the year, and Garland followed it with a big 3-pointer of her own.
On South Jeffersons next possession, the 5-foot-3 Garland pulled down an offensive rebound and scored on the put-back to give the Spartans a 44-36 lead that they would never relinquish.
The Spartans swept the season series from the Warriors.
We felt pretty pumped up, Garland said. And I felt more confidence.
Indian River, which dropped to 5-3 and 4-2, kept the pressure on the Spartans until the buzzer sounded.
Sarah Mattingly drained a 3-pointer with two minutes to play that cut South Jeffersons lead to 47-45.
With 4.3 seconds left, Kammikia Barnes nailed a 3-pointer to cut the Spartans lead to 50-48.
But South Jefferson inbounded the ball and dribbled the clock out before the Warriors could commit a foul.
They made some huge shots in the fourth quarter at critical times, Indian River coach Jim Whitley said.
I knew that we had an opportunity and that were good enough that we could beat them, Whitley added. I knew that we would be in the game, but they made some absolutely great plays at the end of the game when they needed to.
The largest lead by either team was eight points. The Spartans led by two after the first quarter, Indian River led by three at halftime and the Spartans carried a three-point advantage into the fourth quarter.
You dont see too many of these types of games in the Frontier League, Whitley said. It was high-energy, it was emotional and it was well played.
Senior Ashlynn Borce led the Warriors with 15 points on five 3-pointers and Barnes added 13.
McLean and freshman Hannah Bassett each scored eight points for the Spartans.