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San Juan Spartans (8-7) wrap-up 2019, look forward to league play

Wyatt Winalski from the charity stripe, sinking the free throw. // Marcus D. Smith

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Marcus D. Smith
For San Juan High School, the last game of 2019 against Foothill High School was one they’d like to put behind them as the varsity boys team gears up for league play in 2020, beginning Jan. 10.

It was simply a sluggish start from the beginning of the Dec. 30 game for San Juan. The holiday stretch proved to be too much time away from the court as the Spartans struggled to find a rhythm against the Mustangs.

This was one of those games that can easily go overlooked with the timing of it on the schedule. Some players still seemingly on a rush from Christmas, others looking forward to the New Year, while some players were battling a cold. The overall focus was not necessarily on basketball, and from pregame warm-ups to opening tip-off, you could notice the energy was not present.

“[E]ven before the game, just the way that we warmed up. I look at body language… I could honestly just see it right off the back,” said San Juan High School Varsity Head Coach Freddie Bryant. “So when you’re not doing the little things, you’re not going to come up with the big victory that you need at the end.”

By the end of the first quarter, the score was only 14-9, but a 24-point quarter from Foothill High School opened the gates for a lopsided boxscore. It didn’t help that the Spartans only manged to register seven team points in the second quarter.

They weren’t able to recover from that second quarter and would lose the game by a final score of 71-33, making them an overall 8-7 on the season. This game was the team’s first game since Dec. 21. The nine-day layoff was the Spartans’ the longest span without playing a game.

“You knew this was going to be hard, but I didn’t think it was going to be this bad,” said Bryant. “But we showed that we haven’t been at practice, guys have been sick. It’s just it hasn’t been a merry Christmas and a happy new year for us so far, as far as that goes.”

The second half was not much different than the first. They outscored 36-15 in the final 16 minutes of the game. Whether it was the anticipation of the new year, or simply that the game was the Monday after the holiday week.

“This is the hardest time of the year,” said Bryant. “I knew it coming in, you don’t want to schedule too many games during the break just for the simple fact, kids are gone, kids are out of town, and you know you want to respect the fact, the family and everything.”

With the year coming to an end, and the team can move on to focus on their true task for the season, which is hopes to win a league championship. He has the team motivated to succeed in all of their endeavors. They understand what their potential is, as well as their limitations on their abilities.

“League is up for grabs this year, and if we don’t get it together then we’re going to find ourselves kind of in the middle of pack,” Bryant continued. “But hopefully we can get it together so we can, you know, be at the top of league the way that we need to.”

The Spartans will have several home games to rectify errors and get their rhythm back when they play Franklin (Stockton) on Jan. 3 and Cornerstone Christian on Jan. 8.

These will be the final two non-conference games of the season for San Juan High School with league play beginning on Jan. 10 when they go on the road against Highlands High School.

Marcus D. Smith
Marcus D. Smith

Sports Reporter Marcus D. Smith covers high school sports in Citrus Heights. Smith is a Sacramento-area native and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2017.

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