ADAMS Coaches will tell you their best players must perform at a high level in a big game against a quality opponent.
But its contributions from the supporting cast, those players who do a lot of little things that go unnoticed, and often make a difference between winning and losing.
South Jefferson boys basketball coach Fred Piche received a little bit of both on Tuesday night as the Spartans preserved their unbeaten streak with a 48-35 Frontier League crossover win over previously unbeaten Beaver River.
Standout seniors Tom Bassett (15 points) and Jacob Worden (10) did their usual part for South Jefferson (5-0 overall, 4-0 league), which raced to an early 11-2 lead and never trailed.
But a stellar all-around game by senior guard Jordan Schloop (11 points) and a terrific defensive performance by senior Kraig Steele made the difference against the Beavers (4-1, 3-1).
Schloop delivered several key points in a defensive struggle, came up with loose balls and key rebounds. He handed out key assists to complement the play of Bassett and Worden.
Steele dogged Beaver River scoring leader Samuel Widrick all over the court, holding him to a hard-earned 15 points and just one field goal in the second half as South Jefferson pulled away for good.
What a luxury for a coach to have two kids who dont care about individual things, but are all about winning, Piche said. Jordan does so many things for us, and he helps take some of the pressure off Tom. And Kraig doesnt care if he ever scores.
Said Schloop: With them paying so much attention to Tom and Jacob, it left me with some open looks. I just try to make some plays and play solid defense.
Beaver River coach Lynn Petzoldt certainly noticed the contributions from Schloop and Steele.
Steele really made Samuel work hard for his points. Nothing came easy for us tonight, Petzoldt said. I thought we did a decent job on Bassett and Worden. But Schloop had some key hoops when we left him open. Thats what were looking for, a third scorer to help Alex (Hall) and Samuel.
Worden and Beaver River senior big man Alex Hall (nine points) neutralized each other inside and on the boards.
Our goal was to stay behind Hall and force him to take tough shots under pressure, Schloop said. Last year he dominated us, so we were determined not to let him go off again.
Hall went for a triple-double (12 points, 18 rebounds, 13 blocks) last Jan. 20 as the Beavers handed the Spartans their first loss. Widrick also scored 28 points in that game.
But Steele forced Widrick out of his comfort zone early, and he rarely had an open look.
I think Kraig tired him out in the first half because he had to work so hard just to get the ball, Piche said. And Jake really battled hard inside with Hall all night.
South Jeffersons quick start also helped. Thats something the Spartans have accomplished in every game so far.
The kids really come out and get right to work, Piche said. That allows you to have a few down periods later in the game.
The Beavers cut the deficit to 13-8 after one quarter, and trailed 23-17 at halftime.
The Spartans pulled away to a 30-19 edge in the third quarter, but again the Beavers fought back and closed within 32-24 after three periods. But they got no closer as South Jefferson built the advantage to as much as 48-30 with a minute to play.
When you hold a good team to 48 points, you usually win, Petzoldt said. But weve got to find some more scoring as we move ahead.