Free-throw shooting helps lift Spartans boys past Milford, 43-34


For The Dialog


MILLTOWN – St. Mark’s used some clutch free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter to hold off Milford Saturday night at home, 43-34.

The Spartans took a one-point lead into the final quarter, but Milford scored early to take the lead and tried to sit on the ball with about five minutes to go. On one such possession, junior Matt Williams managed a steal and a layup as St. Mark’s jumped back in front, but two free throws by the Milford kept the back-and-forth going.

Senior Nick Papa ended the roller coaster with a layup that made it 35-34 Spartans, and they would not relinquish the advantage. Williams hit a free throw, followed by another Papa layup, and it was 38-34. Senior T.J. Brown was particularly clutch in the final minutes, going six for nine from the line.

Williams, with six points, and Papa, who had four, keyed a first quarter in which the Spartans took a 13-4 lead. Milford struggled from the floor and could not get its fast-paced offense in gear. St. Mark’s frustrated the Bucs into one-shot possessions most of the night, as the Spartans controlled the boards.

Milford climbed steadily back into the game after the first quarter. The Bucs trailed by five at halftime and by just one after three. Milford had a chance to take the lead early in the third when St. Mark’s coach Nick Sanna was hit with a technical foul, but the Bucs missed both foul shots.

Papa led St. Mark’s with 13 points. He was joined in double figures by Williams (11) and Brown (10). Senior Tikeace Harris led the Buccaneers with nine.

The Spartans are now 11-4 and are back in action Monday night at St. Elizabeth (6-10) at 7:15 p.m. and again Tuesday at Sanford (10-6) at 5:15 p.m. Milford, which is 10-8, is home Thursday against 3-13 Lake Forest at 6:15 p.m.