The Spartans and 88ers of the varsity men’s competitive basketball league squared off June 22 in the semi-finals for a spot in the championship.
The Spartans battled back from a 12-point deficit to advance to the championship as they defeated the 88ers 84-71. The 88ers jumped out to an early lead thanks to accurate three-point shooting.
Taft Christensen, a freshman majoring in university studies, said that playing as a team and having good ball movement helped them to jump out to an early lead.
88ers coach Mackenzie Pearson, a freshman studying exercise physiology, said she felt her team’s victory in the first round of the playoffs gave them encouragement in the first half.
“They decided to play as a team this week and that’s something they haven’t done before. Today they had the encouragement from last night’s victory. So they just wanted to play, and that’s how we got that lead,” Pearson said.
The Spartans continued to play sloppy on offense, turned the ball over, and found themselves in a 12-point hole at the end of the first half, trailing the 88ers 43-31.
Strong defense and shooting, along with strong rebounding, helped the 88ers carry a large lead into the second half.
The Spartans went on a 16-0 run during the second half, taking the led from the 88ers, and lead the rest of the way.
Spartans coach Victor Stashkevich, a sophomore majoring in university studies, said his players rose to the challenge in the second half.
“Our players stepped and played really tight defense, rebounded and just hustled,” Stashkevich said.
Chris Blanchard, a senior studying mechanical engineering, said the Spartans were able to start making lays, playing smarter and moving the ball more, which helped them come back to win the game.
The Spartans will face the Freeze in the Men’s Varsity Competitive Basketball Championship on June 29 at 5 p.m. in the Hart Main Gym.