Sparks became the last local school to knock off the struggling Colts, 59-42 in a non-league matchup at the Brickhouse.
“Eight days off. We were a little sloppy,” Sparks boys basketball coach Dan Schreiber said. “I thought we did a good job with offensive rebounding, especially in the first half. It really kept us in it for the most part. They’ve actually gotten better. We didn’t play that bad. Dean (Whellams) has done a good job with them.”
The Railroaders trailed 6-5 in the opening quarter, but gradually built a six-point edge. Xavier Rodriguez scored on a fast break, handing the hosts a 14-8 lead with 1:06 remaining in the quarter. It was also Sparks’ largest lead during the first eight minutes.
However, Wooster nearly erased that lead by scoring back-to-back buckets in the final 42 seconds, including a pull-up jumper by Deshawn Pughsley as time expired.
Sparks quickly increased the gap back up to six with a pair of baskets in the paint in the first 1:18 of the second quarter, making it an 18-12 ballgame.
The Colts’ offense wasn’t very effective in the second quarter. The visitors made one shot from the field at the 5:53 mark of the second quarter. Only a pair of free throws nearly four minutes later added to their score.
The drought allowed Sparks to increase its edge to double digits with a 6-0 run on three straight baskets down low. The Maroon and Gold led 24-14 with 2:14 left in the first half.
Sparks enjoyed a double-digit lead at the break, 26-16, thanks to a DJ Devine layup with 10 seconds on the clock.
“The biggest thing in the first quarter was we weren’t jumping to that pass, so when they‘d pass the ball, they would cut through,” Schreiber said. “If we’re not jumping to the pass, the cutters will be open every time. Once we made that simple adjustment, it really caused problems with their offense.”
The Railroaders opened the second half’s scoring on a Brian Morgan 3-pointer.
Wooster ended its offensive futility, making its first shot in just under eight minutes when Pughsley pulled up and hit a tough jumper. Thirty seconds later, the Colts drained a 3-pointer, cutting the deficit to 29-21 with 5:46 on the third-quarter clock.
But the Colts couldn’t get any closer thanks in part to Morgan’s outside shooting. Morgan made his first three 3-pointers of the third quarter. The last forged the home team ahead 40-27 with 3:12 to go in the period. Morgan nailed four shots from behind the arc on the night and finished with 14 points.
At the end of the third, Sparks was up 44-32.
The Colts got within single digits one last time, 46-38, with 4:22 left in contest.
But the Railroaders answered with 10 straight points and a 13-2 rally in the fourth gave Sparks a game-high 59-40 lead to seal the win with 50 seconds to go in the game.
Only five players scored for Sparks. Devine also finished with 14 points to tie Morgan for game-high honors along with Wooster’s Pughsley. Bobby Brown added 12 in the win, while Erik Garcia and Rodriguez added 10 and nine respectively.
Sparks (8-2) opens 3A North league play Tuesday at Dayton. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.