By Aidan Joly
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga needed a strong fourth quarter in order to hold off a hard-charging Jamesville-DeWitt squad, but they were able to in the end, grabbing a 64-56 win over the Red Rams on Friday night.
After Jamesville-DeWitt’s John Withers made a clutch three to make it a 56-53 game with less than two minutes to go, the Blue Streaks had to check their guts and keep themselves on top in a game where they had led by as much as 17, a lead that had come much earlier in the game.
However, the Blue Streaks were able to hit some key free throws courtesy of Aidan Holmes and Luke Britton in order to conserve the victory against the non-league opponent, out of Section III.
Despite that, the main story of the game was the Blue Streaks playing hard both inside the paint and giving themselves some help on the perimeter when going inside wasn’t going to work. They did this without the usual strong play of Holmes, but with Britton and Michael Rogan, who both played very well and led Saratoga with 16 and 19 points respectively.
“It was different because it was hard to match up with them with the size, but we just had to work harder than them and I think honestly we just wanted it more than them. We just kept pushing the ball and we gave it our all,” Rogan said.
Holmes did end up finishing the game with 13 points, however nine of them came on free throws in the fourth quarter.
“That’s what we talked about after the game, it’s tough to prep and plan for a team that has four or five guys that can score the ball. If it’s one or two guys you can really key in on them and try to focus your game plan on taking them out,” Saratoga head coach Matt Usher said.
It was not that close the entire game, though. The Blue Streaks dominated in the first parts of the night, getting a lead as large as 17 at one point late in the second quarter before Jamesville-DeWitt went on an 11-0 run to close the half, making it only a six-point lead for Saratoga at the break. From there, the margin stayed under 10 points, but Jamesville-DeWitt never had the lead, despite their best efforts to get back into the game.
“We were up big in the first half and then we kind of gave it away. From then on, we knew we could (hold them off) and then we let up a possession and they hit a three, they kept trickling back. It was a good win,” Rogan said.
Usher said of the night overall, a game against a non-league opponent and his team’s first game in 15 days, “We were more focused on us improving in several areas and I think we did that tonight.”
The Blue Streaks placed three players in double figure scoring. Michael Rogan led the Blue Streaks with 19 points. Luke Britton added 16 points. Aidan Holmes tallied 13 points.
The Blue Streaks buried 7 trifectas.
Michael Rogan made 4 three-pointers. Luke Britton added 3.Saratoga Springs shot outstanding from the free throw line as they made 68.4%, 13 of 19.
The Red Rams had a trio of players players in double figure scoring. Preston Shumpert paced Jamesville-DeWitt with 15 points. Trey Autry powered in 13 points. Matthew Cieplicki collected 12 points. Payton Shumpert had 7 points.
Jamesville-DeWitt drilled 7 hoops from long range.
The Red Rams shot with sterling accuracy from the charity stripe as they produced 78.6%, 11 of 14.
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