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Spartans Utilize Big Third Quarter to Take Down Indians

It doesn’t matter if it’s December or February in Western New York high school basketball: league games matter, and for Williamsville North, they started divisional play on the right foot.

The Spartans defeated West Seneca West 62-53 on the back of a game-high 21 points from senior Jacob Belote in an ECIC I contest at Williamsville North High School.

While the Spartans (4-0, 1-0) reigned victorious, something that caught the eye of everyone in the gymnasium initially was the starting lineup for West Seneca West.

The Indians began the game with only four players on the court, which West coach Des Randall said was a tribute to Juston Johnson, the star senior fighting the legal system for his eligibility to play this year. Players also wore a number five patch on their jerseys for Johnson.

“[The players] wanted to show that we could care less about the wins right now, we want our brother on the court,” said Randall. “One of the moms suggested we play with four, and we were either going to play for a few minutes, a quarter, a half, or maybe even the whole game.”

The Indians (0-3,0-1) returned to full strength with 4:12 to go in the first quarter, leading 8-7.

It was a back-and-forth game from then on, with both teams exchanging blows, including a 12-0 run by West in the second quarter to take what would be their last lead of the game, 26-25 with 2:13 to go before half.

However, thanks to a few buckets in the paint, which was a point-of-emphasis for North, the Spartans took a 30-25 lead into the break utilizing a 6-0 run of their own.

“Size is something that we have that not everybody does, and when you have an opportunity like that to feed the big guy, you do,” said Will North coach Chuck Swierski. “They played a soft zone in the middle and were worried about our shooters, and we got the ball inside and Jon [Abaya] saved us.”

It was Abaya putting up monster numbers and being a presence in the paint all night for the Spartans, as he finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. However, quarter three belonged to his teammate, Belote.

The Spartans outscored the Indians 22-5, as Belote dropped 14 of his 21 in the third frame en route to the win.

“We came out with a lot of energy, we took good open shots and our teammates moved the ball well,” said Belote, who tallied his second 20-point game in a row after dropping 27 in a 74-50 win against Wilson on December 7th.

Senior Adrian Baugh led West with 14 points in the loss.

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