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After hosting the Iowa Central Tritons just days before in their final regular season game of the year, the Spartans once again tipped-off against the Tritons in game one of the ICCAC Region XI Men's Basketball Championship. The two times these teams met during the season, regulation ended in a 50-50 tie. Unfortunately for the Spartans, after a 54-54 tie to end the fourth quarter, the final buzzer in overtime left them one point down 60-61, ending the season for the Spartans.
Read The Creston News Advertiser's article on the last game of the Spartans' season here.
In two games against Iowa Central this season, Southwestern has found itself tied at the end of regulation, 50-50. In the previous meeting, the matter was settled in two overtimes with the Tritons prevailing; however, Saturday was a different story for the Spartans, who pulled off the 60-54 overtime win. In a game that had big repercussions in the overall Regional seeding, Southwestern held a 26-20 halftime lead behind a spark from Larry Mason on the offensive end and timely rebounding defensively from Jack Harrison and Devin Kastrup. In the second half, the lead teetered back and forth. Trailing 50-49, Marquealis Edwards was fouled with 35 seconds remaining, but he connected on only one free throw. Southwestern made a defensive stand to take the game to overtime.
In order to stay sharp, Southwestern used its off day in the conference schedule to take on powerful Southeast Nebraska in Beatrice Saturday. The result was a satisfying Spartan win, 62-53. The first half saw several lead changes, but Southwestern gaining control by one, 29-28, on the heels of two three-point goals from Marcus Littleton, and two inside baskets by Jared Theis (pictured). Meanwhile, the Spartans had focused on defensive transition, attempting to limit the high-octane Storm from easy baskets. Southwestern grabbed a nine point advantage with 10 minutes to play on the strength of two nice feeds from Marquealis Edwards to Devin Kastrup inside, but Southeast fought back to within one point, 44-43, with four minutes to play. Patrick Wright then made two big plays in succession for the Spartans, leading to a basket and rebound on the defensive end. In Southwestern’s next possession, Delby Halcomb connected on two free throws to up the lead to 48-44, at which point the Spartans used ball control and an impressive 21-24 from the free throw line to put the game out of reach.
As the conference positions jumble together with a few games to play, Southwestern needed a win at Ellsworth, who was running second in the league as of Saturday. Ellsworth came out of the gates strong, banging in two three-point goals immediately for an early 6-2 advantage, but Southwestern settled in and began to make some defensive stops, and took advantage of some strong inside finishes from Patrick Wright, Marquealis Edwards, and Devin Kastrup. Southwestern took a 32-27 lead to the locker room.