Sparta Advances In The 'Frick' Of Time, 73-67
Sunday, March 3, 2013 • 8:48am
SPARTA, NJ - Zach Frick did not want his career to end with a loss on his home court. Crossing the elite 1,000 point barrier earlier this season, and elevating the Spartans to back to back 20 win seasons, it would not be a fitting ending for such an accomplished player.
He made sure it did not happen Saturday, pumping in 34 points in an instant classic, 73-67 overtime victory over Mount Olive at the Sparta High School gymnasium. With the victory, the 25-4 Spartans will face Teaneck, one of the highest rated outfits in the state, at the Highwaymen’s home court Tuesday night.
“Jake [Melville] and I are seniors. We didn’t want our last game to be a loss to them at home,” noted Frick, referring to a fray that saw each team comeback from double-digit deficits to claim the lead.
With 2:23 remaining in the overtime session, Frick drained a three-pointer from the right wing that proved to be a dagger, giving Sparta a 67-62 lead that forced Mount Olive to foul out of desperation the rest of the way. Only 25 seconds earlier, the Morris County Champions’ star player, Zach Heeman, fouled out after unheralded Sparta forward Austin Unglaub took a charge in the paint.
“It was a total team effort for us today, it's a great opportunity to have another shot at Teaneck,” said Unglaub.
Early on, it appeared Sparta would cruise comfortably to victory, jumping to a quick 17-5 lead after seven minutes fueled by six a piece from Frick and 6’9" center Mitchell Cohen. But Mount Olive’s explosive perimeter offense came alive over the next one and a half quarters, outscoring Sparta 39-12 over that span, backed by four three-pointers from Marauder guard Rashaan Spencer.
But at the 5:10 mark of the third quarter, Sparta head coach Brian Brennan made a key adjustment, switching from man-to-man to zone defense, disrupting Mount Olive’s offensive rhythm from that point on.
“It was a total performance from all five on the floor tonight. When we switched to zone, they missed some shots down the stretch,” said a victorious Brennan after the game.
The fourth quarter proved to be a thriller. Sparta had clawed back to make it a one possession game in the waning minutes, but were unable to take the lead, until Unglaub nailed a three, to give Sparta a 62-60 edge with 1:19 to play.
But on the ensuing possession, Heeman converted a lay-up to knot the score at 62. Holding out for one last opportunity, a Frick floater was just off, and a frantic put back attempt from Unglaub nearly ended the drama in regulation. But it fell just short, and was heading for an extra four minutes, setting up Frick’s brilliance.
With Teaneck looming, Sparta is already focused on Tuesday night’s battle for the North I, Group III crown.
“They beat us in state's the last two years, hopefully this is our time to break through,” explained Frick.
If they receive a performance like this one from him, Sparta has as good a chance as anyone to do it.
The box score:
Sparta (25-4): 17 5 18 22 11- 73
Mount Olive (23-6): 7 21 20 14 5-67
Sparta: Zach Frick 7-3-11-34, Mitch Cohen 6-0-4-16, Austin Unglaub 1-2-2-10, Jake Melville 4-0-0-8, Kevin Foulds 2-0-1-5. Totals: 20-5-18-73.
Mount Olive: Rashaan Spencer 4-5-3-26, Ryan Traub 4-3-0-17, Zach Heeman 3-0-3-9, Anthony Verrone 1-1-2-7, Steve Leonardo 1-0-2-4, Chris Grillo 0-1-1-4
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