Sparkman's Three Extends Win Streak to 19

  YORK, PA-Sophomore guard April Sparkman (Walkersville, Md./Walkersville) drained a game-winning three pointer from the right wing with 4.5 seconds left to lift the nationally ranked York College Spartans to a dramatic 59-56 win over the University of Mary Washington Eagles on Monday night in a huge Capital Athletic Conference contest at Wolf Gymnasium. The Spartans extended their school-record win streak to 19 as they now are a perfect 12-0 in the CAC and 19-1 overall. The Eagles fall to 16-4 with the loss and 8-3 in the conference.
    The game fulfilled the promise of two nationally ranked squads squaring off in a late-season showdown. The Spartans, who are ranked 13th in the Top 25 Poll and 14th in the WBCA USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, and the Eagles, who are 25th in the WBCA Poll, had a classic contest on January 7 in Fredericksburg as York notched a seven point win. The rematch did not disappoint as the squads slugged it out for 40 minutes. There were eight ties in the game, eight lead changes and enough drama to last fans long past the final horn.
    Sparkman’s game winning bucket capped a wild last three minutes of the game. Mary Washington had pulled in front of the Spartans with six minutes left in the game, building their lead to six at 53-47 on a pair of Katie Wimmer free throws with 3:29 remaining. The Spartans then began their climb back. York cut the lead to three when senior Amanda Andrews (Fallston, Md./Fallston) drilled a clutch triple from the top of the key, drawing York to 53-50 with 3:05 left. Fellow senior Chanel Perez (Biglerville, Pa./Gettysburg) then sliced through the Eagle defense for a lay up on York’s ensuing possession, cutting the Eagle lead to one. Senior point guard Keli Ward (Nottingham, Pa./Oxford) then made a play when her teammates needed her to as she drew a foul with 1:17 remaining. Ward cashed out both free throws to give York a one point lead. On the next Spartan trip, Ward drove to the bucket and canned a tough lay up with 39 seconds left to increase the York lead to three.
    The Eagles were far from done as they called time out to set up their possession. Mary Washington came out of the time out and got a Kaitie Clarkin bomb from two feet behind the men’s arc at the top of the key, tying the game at 56 with 18 seconds remaining in regulation. The Spartans brought the ball up, called time out with 11 seconds remaining and set up a play. With the fans all on their feet, Ward received the inbounds pass, drove to the right side of the lane and had three Eagles collapse on her. The Spartans’ all-time assist leader then did what she always does, find the open player as she hit Sparkman for the wide-open triple. The sophomore calmly sank the trey for the lead. Clarkin had a chance at the horn for the tie but the shot went begging as the Green and White picked up another big win in a season of big victories.
    The first half saw the two best defensive teams in the CAC battle it out as neither squad could sustain any offensive momentum. The game was tied at five and again at 12 before the Eagles forged a five point lead. The Spartans battled back with an 8-0 run to take a 21-18 lead. The Eagles tied the game at 21 and proceeded to score nine of the final 11 points of the half to take a 27-23 lead at the break. It was just the second time all season that York has trailed at the break.
    York was paced by Sparkman as the sophomore tallied 16 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots. Sparkman was 6-for-10 from the floor and 3-for-6 from three. She also split her only two free throw attempts of the night. Perez continues her march to 1,000 career points as she had 14 points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal. Perez is now 21 points away from becoming the 12th member of that exclusive club. Ward had her double-double streak snapped at five as she had a season-low seven points. However, the CAC’s leading scorer did other things for her club as she had a game-high 13 rebounds, handed out six assists, blocked a shot and had a steal in her 40 minutes of work. Sophomore Jaimie Sapp (Bluemount, Va./Loudon Valley) added nine points, three rebounds and three big blocked shots while senior Amy Fry (Carlisle, Pa./Big Spring) came off the bench for seven points and three assists in 15 minutes of action.
    The Eagles were paced by senior standout Ashton Mitchell as she had 18 points, seven rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes of work. Mitchell was 7-for-14 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Katy Larson was the other Eagle in double figures with 11 points. Clarkin had six points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals in 33 minutes.
    The Green and White finished the game shooting 41.2% from the field while Mary Washington was held to just 33.3% shooting for the game. The Eagles edged the Spartans on the glass 39-37. York shot 28.6% (6-for-21) from three while the Eagles were a little better from three, converting 6-of-18, good for a 33.3% accuracy mark. York was 11-for-16 from the stripe in the game while UMW was 8-for-10.
    York turned the ball over 12 times as the Eagles turned those miscues in 17 points while UMW had 11 turnovers which became seven York points.
    The Spartans are now off until Saturday when they travel to St. Mary’s College to face the Seahawks in a CAC contest. Tip time in St. Mary’s City is slated for 2:00 pm.


April Sparkman photo courtesy of Steve Doemland