COLUMBIA — The Muriel Williams Battle boys basketball team had two weeks off to think about its five-game losing streak. Friday night, it made those past results look like ancient history.
Senior guard Parley Jenkins scored a game-high 11 points and junior forward Jadaunte Sutton scored nine more and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Spartans’ 51-26 win over Blair Oaks of Jefferson City.
"I knew it right when we started, and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, we look like a team here,'" coach John Burns said.
His squad forced seven first-half turnovers and bench players stood up and stomped their feet when the Spartans (6-11) got out in transition. After the Falcons took a timeout to break a 10-1 run, Battle players met their teammates at half court with chest bumps and high fives.
Did Battle wake up from its two-week nap?
“I don’t think there was any rust,” Burns said.
The Spartans used the hiatus to perfect their zone offense and chase down ball handlers out of an animated 2-3 zone.
A layoff is good to reinforce fundamentals, he said, but it’s also great to get your players inspired for a game.
“I was excited today in school,” Sutton said.
It showed. A steal in the third quarter by sophomore Brevinn Tyler set Sutton up for a heavy left-handed dunk, his first ever in a high school game.
“The crowd got hyped tonight,” Sutton said. “I got hyped.”
The Spartans looked to Sutton to break the Falcon press and get crucial buckets to keep Blair Oaks at arm’s length.
Starting point guard Daviante Ostrander injured his ankle in the third quarter and left the game. Minutes later, replacement Alex Smith was fouled hard on a layup and was pulled for concussion protocols.
Junior varsity call-up Terrell Kemp, more of a wingman than ball handler, also nursed a sore ankle.
“We’ll assess the damage tomorrow and see what happens,” Burns said. The Spartans face Fatima at 3 p.m Saturday.
Sutton will run the point for Battle if the other guards aren’t fit to go. His long and lean frame will also drop to the back of the Spartans’ zone.
Burns just doesn’t want the ball to reach him. Ideally, Ostrander and Smith would cut the ball off first.
“If we don’t use our speed, we’re just not very good,” Burns said. “We’re weak and small, but we are fast.”
And after a slow two weeks for Battle, its schedule is set to hit high gear. It plays Columbia mainstays Fr. Tolton, Rock Bridge and Hickman in three of its next four games.
“We play well if we can get reps in,” Burns said.
With three games in the next seven days, good luck getting those reps.
Supervising editor is Raymond Howze.