LINCOLN — Sutton boys basketball head coach Steve Spongberg said it would need to be his team's defense that propelled the Mustangs into the next round, and he was right.
Top-seeded Sutton defeated Crofton 37-24 in the first round of the Class C-2 state tournament this morning at Lincoln High School, holding Crofton to just nine points in the second half after the No. 8 seed led much of the first half.
"I thought our defense was constant. That's what we've talked about all year," said Spongberg, whose Mustangs improved to 26-1 and advance to play in the semifinals Friday at 9 a.m. at the Pershing Center against either Hartington Cedar Catholic or North Platte St. Patrick's. "We were able to stay in the game the first half. We certainly didn't shoot the ball well. We have to get more balance on offense. When you get down here to the state tournament, you know every game is going to be a tremendous challenge. … We're fortunate to move on."
The Warriors were 5-for-8 from the field in the first quarter to take a 12-10 lead. But the Sutton defense came alive in the second period, holding Crofton without a field goal and just three points.
The Mustangs scored just four points through most of the second period, but a steal and a fast-break layup from senior Austan Rath in the final 30 seconds gave Sutton a one-point lead at the half.
Rath continued to provide the offense for the Mustangs in the third period. The senior scored all seven of Sutton's third-quarter points en route to a game-high 22 points. Rath also finished with 10 rebounds."