Eighth-ranked Archmere Academy used its perimeter quickness to deny the ball from getting into the hands of No. 6 St. Mark’s primary ball handlers.
The ball denial prevented the Spartans from running the offense the way they wanted, which helped the Auks earn a 42-33 home victory in nonconference boys basketball action Thursday night.
“I have quick guards, and St. Mark’s had one guy who is a really good ball handler,” Archmere head coach Rick Nelms said. “We tried to keep him away from the ball and make the other guys handle the ball. We did that most of the time.”
The Auks (12-2) used a tight man-to-man defense to ensure the Spartans never found the space they wanted, often forcing the ball-handler to give up the ball. That led to several turnovers, including three five-second violations.
Archmere also played with discipline on the defensive end, maintaining aggressiveness and avoiding putting itself in poor position when St. Mark’s shooters looked as if they were about to take a shot.
“After seeing them play numerous times, we knew they liked to pump fake a lot on shots,” Tyler Burns said. “Our big thing was to stay on the ground and not get into foul trouble.”
The Spartans (9-3) held a 9-8 lead after a back-and-forth first quarter in which the teams exchanged the lead six times. But the Auks slowly took control of the game in the second and third quarters, outscoring St. Mark’s 8-4 in each frame to take a 24-17 lead heading into the fourt.
After the teams exchanged baskets early in the fourth, Archmere used a 7-0 run to give the Auks their largest lead of the game at 35-23 midway through the frame. The Spartans tried to mount a comeback, twice cutting the deficit to five points in the final three minutes, but the Auks made the stops they needed to hold for the win.
Archmere ran its offense efficiently throughout the game because its guards had the space they needed to attack the basket. The Auks said they knew what to expect from St. Mark’s defense.
“We just executed our plays. We had numerous man-to-man plays that we had already prepared in practice for the game,” said Burns, who had a game-high 20 points. “Against St. Mark’s, who runs a tough man-to-man defense, we were able to execute.”
Brian Rogers added eight points for Archmere. Nick Papa scored 11 to lead the Spartans with Pete Berardi adding 10 more.