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High school basketball: Sparkplugs win battle of unbeatens

12:00 AM, Dec. 14, 2012 EST

Speedway used a dominating performance over the second and third quarters to win a battle of undefeated Indiana Crossroads Conference teams Friday.

After opening a double-digit lead, the Sparkplugs held off a furious fourth-quarter rally by host Scecina before pulling away for a 70-58 win.

The Crusaders (6-1) held early 8-2 and 19-14 leads, but Speedway used a 31-10 run over the middle two quarters to open a lead that reached as high as 19.

"We try to hang our hat on playing defense and that defense wins championships," Speedway coach Chuck Bennett said. "I felt like we got half-court stops, and rebounding the ball allows us to get in transition, and we're pretty good in transition. But I also thought we did some nice half-court execution."

Junior Justin Brent scored 11 of his 21 points in the second quarter, while teammate Anthony Jones was the spark in the third quarter, providing 14 of his 17 points.

Scecina made it competitive in the fourth quarter, opening with a 16-6 run and twice cut the deficit to four. Sophomore Josh Rutland scored 13 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter.

"We finally decided to play with some intensity and decided to get after it," Scecina coach Rob New said. "We went three quarters and kept telling them to pick them up full court and we would pick them up three-quarters or half court. We finally decided to have a sense of urgency."

The Sparkplugs moved to 6-0, an improvement over last year's 2-9 start. Speedway did finish strong by winning a sectional title.

"For our kids it just continues to build momentum," Bennett said. "But I don't think we'll ever be satisfied. They're trying to get better and with that type of defensive effort, we can be hard to beat if we bring that same type of effort each night."

Speedway just missed having five players in double figures. After Brent and Jones, Austin Anglea had 12, Corey Ross 10 and Jordan Furlow 8.

Scecina was led by a pair of sophomores: Josh Rutland with 20 and Zach Rutland with 12. The Crusaders returned only two players from last year's varsity and Friday was their toughest matchup of the young season.

"Hopefully they can take from this how to play in big games," New said. "We need to get used to playing in a game like this to get tuned up for a sectional or city tournament."



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