Tristan Jeffreys raised up behind the 3-point line in front of a Prep Charter defender and as Hughesville's leading scorer squared his shoulders and positioned the ball to shoot, a yell from the Hughesville bench on the far end of the court yelled, "Don't settle."
Jeffreys, who missed a previous 3-pointer early in a prior Hughesville possession, already had his mind committed, and who could blame him after watching his teammates knock down four 3-pointers in the game's first 10 minutes.
Jeffreys' successful shot made it five 3-pointers and the Spartans added one more in the first half as they built a double-digit lead and were never seriously threatened in a 62-46 victory over the Huskies during the third game of the Williamsport Showcase on Saturday night.
Brandon Fortin of Hughesville (22) struggles in the paint Saturday vs. Prep Charter.
"We shot lights out," junior guard Tyler Mitcheltree said. "You couldn't have asked for a better shooting day."
The shooting display was made more impressive because the Spartans have had little time to practice as of late because of weather and scheduling. They did have a solid shootaround during the day on Saturday and it seemed to carry over into the game.
The win was the ninth of the year for the Spartans, who still need two more victories to clinch a District 4 Class AA playoff berth. Last night's win didn't clinch anything for the Spartans (9-7), but now they just need two wins in their last six games, instead of three.
"We're not really concerned with us winning, we're more concerned about us playing to our highest level in February and March," Hughesville coach Nick Tagliaferri said. "That is all we've ever been concerned about here. We don't care if we are in the tournament with 22 wins or the minimum number. It doesn't matter to us. We are just concerned with how we are playing right now and we have to continue to get better because we have a way to go yet."
Hughesville knocked down three 3-pointers in the first quarter and built a 17-8 lead. Brandon Fortin made the final two of those 3s and he finished with nine points.
Three Spartans - Jeffreys (13), Mitcheltree (11) and Sean Poust (10) - scored in double figures and Fred Newhart joined Fortin with nine points.
"We came out and were very confident and poised," Tagliaferri said.
The Spartans were balanced on offense and defense. Hughesville's interior defenders gave up several inches to Prep Charter's Mustapha Traore and Marques Jackson, but the smaller Spartans proved to be sturdy and forced the Huskies' big men to shoot over the top of them. And if Traore and Jackson missed and the Hughesville frontcourt couldn't clear the rebound, guards like Fortin and Mitcheltree swooped in from the perimeter and helped lead the Spartans the other way.
"It was an all together team defensive effort," Mitcheltree said. "They had two solid guys underneath and we had to contain them."
Trailing by 13 at the half, Prep Charter (2-15) did close to eight points on a pair of Lukeem Laws free throws with 4:29 left in the third quarter. The Spartans, who had lost their previous three games, never cracked and the lead never dipped below eight points. An aggressive Ty Stugart scored four of Hughesville's last six points in the third quarter and the Spartans led by 10 points entering the final eight minutes.
Prep Charter lost Traore to fouls with 6:35 left and never drew closer than nine points in the final quarter.
Traore finished with 10 points for the Huskies as did Rahim Washington.
Hughesville, which will play three games next week, will receive its first crack at win No. 10 on Monday at Central Columbia.
"We are right back at it," Mitcheltree said. "We have practice (today) and then on Monday we are at Central and then right back to turn around against Southern. We are climbing for playoffs right here."
Prep Charter (46)
Brandon Brown 4 1-3 9, Quaadir Hollowman 1 0-0 2, Mustapha Traore 4 2-4 10, , Lykeem Laws 0 2-2 2, Rahim Washington 4 1-2 10, Marques Jackson 2 3-6 7, Marquis Fisher 0 0-0 0, Zamir Lett 2 2-4 6. Totals: 17 11-21 46.
Tristan Jeffreys 6 0-1 13, Brandon Fortin 2 3-4 9, Fred Newhart 4 0-0 9, Ty Stugart 2 0-0 4, Sean Poust 4 0-0 10, Tyler Mitcheltree 3 5-5 11, Kamaal Burkholder 1 0-0 2, Jeremiah McCarty 1 0-0 2, Clint Snyder 1 0-0 2, Alex Welch 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 8-10 62.
Prep Charter8 15 16 7 - 46
Hughesville17 19 13 13 - 62
3-point goals: Prep Charter 1 (Washington); Hughesville 6 (Fortin 2, Poust 2, Jeffreys, Newhart).
Records: Hughesville 9-7, Prep Charter 2-15. Next: Hughesville at Central Columbia (Mon.).