The atmosphere in Trojan Coliseum felt more like the playoffs than early season play.
Sanderson came out firing on all cylinders, but fell just short of Garner 68-57 in front of a packed house Friday night.
The Spartans (2-1) played inspired basketball through three quarters, cutting off the Trojans’ fast break and slowing down Garner’s steal, run, and score game plan.
However, the Trojans’ stifling press defense proved too much for the Spartans, as Garner (4-0) rattled off a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter to break the game wide open.
Garner coach Eddie Gray decided to use quickness to combat Sanderson’s size, even having three point guards on the floor at one time.
Garner sophomore Julius Barnes and senior Demarcus Sanford were the catalysts for the Trojans, jumping passing lanes, hitting the floor for loose balls, and creating havoc for the Spartans. Barnes ended the night with 20 points, four rebounds, and one assist, while Sanford tallied 22 points, three rebounds, and three assists.
Sanderson ended the night with 30 turnovers to Garner’s 11, and only scored eight points in the pivotal fourth frame.
“This was a tough game. It’s so hard to match Garner’s quickness in practice, so I think we held with Garner pretty good for three quarters, then it just got away from us,” Sanderson coach Mike Shaw said. “Bottom line is that they’re just a very athletic team, and we’re not, and we have to learn to play against teams like that – at least better than we did tonight.”
The Spartans were led by Reggie Traywick, who finished the night with 23 points and four rebounds. Traywick felt like Garner just wanted this game a little more than the Spartans did.