Start's Scott Hicks scored almost at will against City League rival Bowsher on Friday night.
The Spartans' 6-foot-3 senior poured in a game-high 32 points, including three 3-pointers.
But Hicks' huge scoring output couldn't outdo a more balanced Bowsher scoring attack led by Nate Allen's team-high 27 points as the Rebels escaped with an 88-86 victory on the Spartans’ home court.
Allen, who scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, was one of five Rebels to score in double figures in a fast-paced contest.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view images
Dajuan King and Aundre Kizer chipped in with 15 points each while Jeff Jones added 13 and Cameron White 10 for Bowsher (9-3, 4-1 CL).
“I thought our guys showed a lot of character in that we gave up a pretty big lead and then we were able to hang on at the end,” Bowsher coach Joe Guerrero said. “That showed a lot of character of our team.”
Bowsher was in charge most of the way and led 74-64 when Allen scored a bucket with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. It seemed as if the Rebels were well on their way to cruising to a victory.
However, that wasn't the case as the Spartans (7-4, 3-2 CL) stormed back with a 16-6 run over the next four minutes. Keith Foreman, who was in position to give Start its first lead since early in the second quarter, tied the score at 80 by making 1 of 2 foul shots with 1:36 left in the game. Yet the Spartans didn't get another shot at taking the lead.
Bowsher responded by scoring the next six points, including a three-point play by Allen, to take an 86-80 lead over Start.
The Rebels went on to hold off the Spartans down the stretch.
“We had a team effort,” Allen said. “We had to settle down. We were nervous and turned the ball over, but we just settled down and played through it and got a win.”
Start's Dion Ivery pumped in 20 points and Dexter Johnson added 17, but the Spartans missed plenty of shots on good looks at the basket. They also allowed the Rebels plenty of opportunities at second-chance points.
Bowsher went 17-for-30 from the foul line compared to a 10-for-17 effort by Start on free-throw attempts.
“It was a good game,” Start coach Gil Guerrero said. “Both teams played hard and it went down to the wire.”
Despite the loss, the Spartans coach said he expects his team to bounce back from the league defeat and continue to play hard.
“The City League is a strange league because it's not who finishes with the most wins at the end of the year, but who gets into the final four and who knows what can happen,” said Gil Guerrero, who is Joe Guerrero's brother. “Right now, we have to just keep playing and playing together.
“We'd won four games in a row. We'll never quit and that's one good thing about these kids. They'll never quit.”
The Rebels gained some early momentum in Friday night's contest when they overcame a 24-21 first-quarter deficit by outscoring the Spartans 21-12 in the second quarter to take a 42-36 edge into halftime.
Jones came off the bench and scored eight of his points during the second quarter to provide a lift with White — Bowsher's starting poing guard — on the bench in foul trouble.
“I really thought that Jeff Jones was the key to the game for us,” Joe Guerrero said. “He came into the game and gave us a lot of time. Cam White has been outstanding for us. He got in foul trouble early and he was sick and he really didn't play his game, but Jeff came in and gave us a lot of quality minutes.”
Contact Donald Emmons at: email@example.com, 419-724-6302, or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.