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St. Mark’s boys improve to 12-5 with 35-29 win over Wilmington Charter

By

Dialog reporter

WILMINGTON – St. Mark’s boys basketball team, with memories of last week’s five-overtime loss to Salesianum fresh in its mind, needed to keep its focus on the task at hand Feb. 13. That was a late-afternoon tilt at Wilmington Charter, which entered the contest at 7-10.

The Spartans passed the test, putting on the usual St. Mark’s performance. The deliberate offense and tough defense paid dividends in a 35-29 win over the Force.

Nick Leski (15) and Will Hoffman play defense against Wilmington Charter. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Early three-point shots by Nick Leski and Brian Gilardi staked St. Mark’s to a 6-0 lead until Gabe Stump got the Force on the board. Turnovers and ball-control issues plagued the Spartans, however, but Gilardi eventually found the range from deep again later in the quarter. The Spartans held an 11-7 lead after one.

The teams combined for just nine points in the second, six of those for St. Mark’s, as the Spartans showed their usual patience with the ball. The hosts, meanwhile, could not get their few shots to fall. The lead grew to 10 at 17-7 on a layup from Will Hoffman. Charter did not score until two minutes remained in the half; freshman Irvin Mayfield, called up from the junior varsity for the afternoon, hit a three from the right elbow.

Gilardi opened the third quarter with his third triple of the game, restoring the 10-point lead, but Charter would outscore the Spartans, 10-4, during the rest of the third quarter. Stump had four of those points, and Mayfield scored with five seconds to go to make it 24-20 heading into the fourth.

Will Hoffman takes the ball to the hoop over two Force defenders. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Field goals from Eric Ludman and Jason Psenicska, and a free throw from Will Hoffman – the first of the game for either team – helped the Spartans grow the advantage to 29-22 with 3:50 to go. Stump scored inside to make it 29-24, but Ludman answered. Stump hit a three-pointer, and James Desch followed with a hoop, and suddenly the Spartans’ lead was down to 31-29 with two minutes on the clock.

The Force missed on a few opportunities to level the score or take the lead, and Leski was perfect on four free-throw attempts to put the game out of reach.

Leski and Gilardi led the Spartans with nine points each. St. Mark’s (12-5) plays its final two home games of the regular season this week. Middletown visits Thursday night at 7:15, and Delcastle is in Pike Creek for a rare Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m.

Stump finished with 13 to pace the Force, who fell to 7-11. They visit Archmere on Thursday at 6:15 p.m.

Eric Ludman goes to the ground to help corral a loose ball late in the Spartans’ win over Wilmington Charter. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

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