SPARTA, NJ - Sparta boys basketball fell to Vernon in the quarterfinal round of the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex tournament on Saturday. In a hotly contested battle, a few baskets can shift momentum to one team's favor. Vernon's Sean Sabol hit a few momentum changing shots that lifted Vernon over Spartah, 63-53.
Sparta was chasing the game from the tip-off as Vernon increased their lead from quarter to quarter. A huge third quarter from Sparta brought them to within one of Vernon 39-38, ready to strike in the fourth. That's when Sabol took over along with guard Jake Rodriguez; three of Sabol's four threes came late in the fourth quarter to thwart Sparta's comeback.
Sabol finished with 15 points and three rebounds. Rodriguez finished with 14 points and closed the game with clutch free throws.
Nick Lucas kept Sparta in the game. He was Sparta's first and second choice for baskets as Jack Simon struggled for the second game in a row to find any sort of consistency with his shot. Lucas had a game high 19 points while Simon finished with nine points and five rebounds. Center Terrell Smith had 12 rebounds but only added four points.
Vernon's Chris Ajamian had a few threes throughout the game including a huge four point play as he was fouled on a three-pointer. His shots kept Sparta running as the Spartans were closing the gap.
The Spartan boys are back in action in a huge game Monday night against Pope John at 7 p.m. at the Sparta High School.