Unfortunately, for the Maroon and Gold, that non-league meeting at WHS showed Sparks it has much to work on heading into its league schedule.
Wooster senior JJ Harloff was making shots all over the floor. He drained five 2-pointers, four 3-pointers and five shots from the charity stripe for a game-high 27 points in his team’s 72-58 home win.
Both teams played a sloppy first quarter, but a Wooster putback with 10 seconds left in the opening period handed the home team a 14-8 lead after the first eight minutes of play. It also started what would be a small 5-0 run by the Colts after they tallied the first three points of the second quarter and went up 17-8.
The Railroaders had plenty of fight in them.
D.J. Devine scored down low and Isaiah Campbell drilled a 3-pointer, cutting the deficit to 17-13 with 6:06 remaining in the first half.
Sparks was able to get to within two, 22-20, with three minutes to go before halftime, but it was all Wooster for the rest of the half.
Harloff hit a pair of 3-pointers for the Colts and added two free throws as part of a 10-2 run that left Wooster with a double-digit lead for the first time, 32-22. The Colts took a 34-25 lead into the locker room.
A Harloff trey extended the cushion to double digits, 39-29, early in the third. However, the Colts couldn’t pull away.
It was a four-point game with under 30 seconds to go in the third quarter, but things got away from Sparks.
After Deshawn Pughsley made two free throws with 6 seconds on the clock, Wooster forced a turnover near midcourt and chucked up a prayer quickly. While the shot was well off the mark, Pughsley was there for the putback as time expired, giving Wooster a 46-38 edge.
The Colts carried that momentum into the fourth quarter and the game was never close again.
The margin reached a game-high 19-point difference following a jumper by Pughsley with 2:29 to go, 70-51. Pughsley finished with 18 points.
Devine paced the Railroaders with 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the floor. Bobby Brown and Keiffer Putman each added 10 in the losing cause.
“We couldn’t take care of the ball and shots weren’t falling. We’ll work on that stuff. With 26 turnovers, you don’t win too many games,” Sparks boys basketball coach Dan Schreiber said. “We talked about that before the game, at halftime and during every timeout. We just needed to get on the boards and rebound. There were sequences where they got three or four offensive shots. You’re not going to win many games with that type of play. We just have to come to the game with a better effort, and there will be a different outcome. We’re talented enough.”
Sparks (5-7) will now turn its attention to its league opener when it travels to Spring Creek Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.