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St. Mark's defense, 15-point run lead to 49-38 win over Sussex Central

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MILLTOWN – St. Mark’s took control of Sussex Central with a 15-0 third-quarter run, then held off the pesky Golden Knights for a 49-38 win in boys basketball on Monday night.

The Spartans had a 20-16 halftime lead, but a free throw and field goal by Shyheim Ayres made it a one-point game early in the second half. Sussex Central had a chance to take the lead on an over-and-back violation by St. Mark’s, but the Knights committed a turnover of their own. Matt Williams nailed a three-pointer for St. Mark’s to start the run. When it ended, the Spartans held a 35-19 lead.

Sussex Central committed at least a half-dozen turnovers during the Spartans’ run. Williams said the Spartans’ defense and deliberate pace on offense can frustrate opponents.

“They tried to split and run around, but we just slowed them down and set the pace. That seemed to frustrate them a lot,” he said. “Defense is like the staple of our team, so we all put in our work on defense and our offense comes from that.”

Sussex Central trimmed five points from the deficit by the end of the quarter, then chipped away at the Spartans’ lead until it was 43-38 on an Ayres three-pointer with 2:45 remaining. Those would be the Knights’ last points, however, as St. Mark’s scored the final six.

Williams led all scorers with 17, including three three-pointers. Nick Papa added 15 for St. Mark’s, which improved to 7-1 on the season. The Spartans travel to Dover on Saturday for a 6:15 p.m. start against the Senators. They stay on the road next week for games Tuesday at No. 1 Sanford and Friday at No. 2 Salesianum. These will be the first road games of the season for St. Mark’s, which has played seven home games and one neutral-site contest.

Williams said the Spartans had to make sure they did not look past the Knights to next week’s games. “We don’t look ahead at all. Each game is a must-win.”

Wanya Hanzer scored 14 to lead the Knights, although he missed much of the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul. Amontay Clanton and Tarez White each had eight. After a season-opening win, Sussex Central has lost seven straight. The Golden Knights are home vs. Seaford on Thursday at 6:15 p.m.

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