Spain Park drops first round game to Pleasant Grove

Published 8:50 am Thursday, December 20, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – The Spain Park Jaguars dropped their first-round game of the Oak Mountain Invitational against Pleasant Grove on Wednesday, Dec. 19, but yet again competed closely against an impressive Spartans’ team that is now 12-3 on the season.

The Jaguars fell behind by 11 points in the third quarter and again by nine points in the final quarter but were able to bounce back on both occasions cutting the lead down to three late in the fourth quarter.

Pleasant Grove, however, was able to respond with an 11-5 run to end the game and pull off a 64-55 victory.

Spain Park (2-12) got off to a slow start on the offensive end of the floor scoring just seven points in the first quarter, five of which came from Cam Crawford.

The Spartans took advantage and used five different scorers in the period to post 15 points and take an early eight-point advantage.

The Jaguars, however, found a rhythm offensively in the second quarter thanks in large part to the hot shooting of Austin Laatsch from beyond the arc. The Spain Park senior knocked down three 3-pointers in the quarter to account for nine second-quarter points.

He was joined by points from four other players, as the Jags put up 19 points in the quarter.

That offensive effort led to stronger defensive play as well with Spain Park holding Pleasant Grove to their lowest offensive output of any quarter in the game at just 12 points, which allowed the Jags to pull back within a point at 27-26 heading into the half.

Coming out of the locker room, Spain Park lost some of that confidence it had gained on the offensive end. The Spartans ended up eventually extending their lead to 43-32 at one point after a 16-6 run to start the second half.

The Jags, however, were able to answer with a quick five-point trip up the floor. Laatsch was able to hit a 3-pointer while a foul was called, which gave possession back to Spain Park. The Jags capitalized on the extra possession with an easy layup to get back within six at 43-37 heading to the final period.

That spurt at the end of the quarter led to some confidence offensively in the final quarter as well.

Spain Park was able to get within three points at 53-50 with 2:50 left in the game and had a chance to pull off the comeback, but Pleasant Grove woke up with a big response.

The Spartans were able to reel off an 8-0 run to take an 11-point advantage before eventually closing the game out for the 64-55 victory.

Crawford led the way for the Jaguars with 17 points thanks to seven field goals, while Laatsch had 15 points thanks to five 3-pointers. The Jags had eight players score in all with seven of them scoring at least four points.

Despite the record, the Jags have only lost one game by more than 14 points, having competed deep into the fourth of almost every game they’ve played this season.