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The first half didn’t start the way Orr had hoped, as the Spartans were whistled for backcourt violations on each of their first two offensive possessions.
The second half didn’t start the way Orr had hoped either, as the Spartans were given a pair of team technical fouls when players hung on the rim during warmups.
However pretty much the entire rest of the game went Orr’s way. The 12th-ranked Spartans looked comfortable and at times dominant on their home court Friday evening, cruising to a 55-38 victory over Red-West rival Crane.
The victory was claimed in large part because of the Spartans pressure defense. Playing a full-court 1-3-1 zone, Orr’s length and speed caused all sorts of problems for the undersized Cougars. The Spartans (14-2, 5-0) forced 11 turnovers in the first half and another 10 in the second, leading to several easy transition baskets on the other end. They also forced several contested shots for Crane (3-10, 2-5), not allowing any easy looks at the rim.
“We know we can score the ball, but we tried to really lock down and play some defense tonight,” Spartans coach Lou Adams said.
Leading the way for Orr on both ends of the floor was senior Brandon Clemons. A transfer from Simeon, Clemons gives the Spartans an element of toughness in their backcourt. He finished with nine points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals, along with forcing the Cougars into several errant passes and traveling violations because of his pressure defense.
“Coach is always telling me to play with a lot of pressure on the defense,” Clemons said. “Push the ball, allow my team to just run with it so we can get easy baskets.”
The game was never really in doubt after the opening minutes. Orr led 17-3 after the first quarter, and the lead expanded to as many as 20 points during the first half. Crane rallied a bit in the third quarter, but could never get the deficit lower than nine points.
“It’s tough, every night the Red-West is a battle,” Adams said. “No matter what a team’s record is, it doesn’t indicate how they play.
“We have two tough games ahead of us with Farragut and Young, so we have to just take it one at a time.”
Senior Jamal McDowell led the Spartans in scoring with 12 points.