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Sparta overwhelms Central Christian

Sparta took advantage of 37 Central Christian turnovers and the hot shooting of BreAnna Pate and Mallory Kendrick to earn a lopsided 57-33 win in the AISA Class A semifinals on Wednesday.

Sparta scored the first eight points of the game, and a Pate steal and layup keyed a 12-2 Sparta run to put the Warriors up 20-6 after a quarter.

Things did not get any better for Central Christian in the second quarter, as Sparta (20-1) outscored the Warriors (13-1) during the last 5:12 to take a 34-10 lead into intermission.

Sparta’s first half success came off a strategy that worked well for Central Christian all season. Both sets of Warriors rely on defense and a fast pace to feed a transition basket-happy offense. But, for Central Christian, Sparta’s pace proved to be more than the Warriors could handle.

“They made our tempo go a little quicker than what we’re used to playing,” said Central Christian coach Darrell Walker. “We got kind of out of sync on offense. They pushed us around.”

Sparta’s pace led to a 27-15-turnover advantage and 18 more offensive possessions.

“Those were a big factor,” said Walker. “Turnovers will kill a team. In the turnover game, we lost a lot of turnovers — too many turnovers.”

After worrying that his team would overlook Central Christian, Sparta coach Russ Brown was pleased with his team’s first half performance.

“We shot well as a team,” said Brown. “I was afraid we might drop, but we didn’t.”

In the second half, the Warriors altered their game plan, opting for more 3-point shots and less of an inside game. The baskets would not fall, and Sparta was not threatened the rest of way.

Pate scored 21 points and Kendrick added 19 for Sparta.

Kara Rawls led Central Christian (17-12) with 15.

With the win, Sparta advances to the Class A championship game against Cornerstone Christian on Friday.