Spartans take their lumps with out Pleckaitis, Roberts

BRANFORD, Dec. 27-Life without Jeremy Pleckaitis has not been kind to the Amity boys basketball team.

Last weekend at the Branford Lions Club Holiday Tournament, the Spartans lost two more games to bring their losing streak to four after a season-opening win against SCC Hammonasset Division favorite North Haven.

Amity (1-4) hung tough last Thursday against host Branford become falling 46-44, and then played three very good quarters against Guilford on Friday before dropping a 69-56 decision.

Pleckaitis-out with a strained tendon in his leg since he scored 30 in that North Haven victory-was cleared to resume practicing early this week, but is still expected to be out for at least 7-10 more days. Amity will also be without Seth Roberts for a month because of a stress fracture in his leg.

The Spartans get no sympathy from the schedule this week, travelling to Career-one of the toughest gyms in the SCC-tonight and playing host to a dangerous Hamden team on Saturday.

"It's a tough time of the year with the Christmas break and almost two weeks off from school," Amity coach Jeff Nielsen said. "We just have to be more consistent."

On Friday against Guilford, the Spartans came out with some hot shooting, making 6-of-9 from the field in the first quarter and shooting 12-of-19 in the first half. But an inability to hang on to the ball (12 turnovers) and rebound consistently still left them trailing 31-30 at the intermission.

Eight Amity players scored in the first half and no player missed more than one shot from the field.

Guilford, who was playing without injured Matt Wohlstrom, immediately jumped to a five-point lead early in the second half (the biggest of the game for either team to that point), but the Spartans answered with an 11-3 run, sparked by seven points from Thor Narowski. It was his old-fashioned 3-point play with 2:33 remaining in the third quarter that gave the Spartans a 43-40 lead.

Joe Arcoma's bucket late in the period put Amity on top 47-44, but the Indians would score the game's next 11 points and never trailed again.

"We started the third quarter with a really nice possession, and then we threw the ball away three times in a row," Nielsen said. "That's the way it's gone for us, we just can't find the consistency right now."

The hot shooting that Amity enjoyed in the first half suddenly escaped them. The Spartans shot only 2-of-11 from the field in the fourth quarter, and went more than six minutes without a point between Arcoma's basket and Rob Goldstein's jumper with 3:18 remaining in the game.

The Indians (4-1) went 11-of-13 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter (9-of-10 in the final two minutes) to seal their third straight victory.

"I thought our intensity was better in the second half," Guilford coach Rick Narracci said. "We wanted to put some pressure on Goldstein and make him work a little harder than he was used to. In the second half, you can see him get a little winded."

Jeff Bernardi scored 21 points and Ryan McKeefrey added 20 points to lead Guilford, which was 20-of-25 from the free throw line.

Narowski had 17 points, including 7-of-7 from the foul line, to pace the Spartans. Joe Arcoma, who led Amity with 12 points against Branford, scored nine.

Now the focus for Amity shifts from a run at a possible conference championship to qualifying for the state tournament.

"It's been tough without our top two scorers and top two rebounders from last season," Nielsen said. "But we have to keep plugging."