Nothing lifts a team quite like a strong start.
So, the Central DeWitt boys basketball squad produced two of them during Tuesday’s WaMaC East contest with Solon.
The Sabers jumped out to a 12-2 lead on the Spartans in the first quarter and later outscored their guests 15-4 to open the second half in a 63-52 victory.
Senior Alex McAleer sparked both runs.
The forward scored the Sabers’ first seven points, highlighted by an alley oop slam, to help the hosts shoot out to a 7-2 lead.
And that advantage continued to grow as Tucker Kinney buried a three and Logan Paulsen scored inside.
Central DeWitt kept its 10-point margin as the two teams traded the next 12 points before the Spartans made a push, pulling within four at 18-14.
McAleer, though, finished a big first quarter by collecting his 10th and 11th points and giving the Sabers a six-point lead.
Things were tighter in the second quarter. The Sabers scored the first four points to get the lead back to 10, but Solon scored the next four.
The teams continued to trade points until a run of three straight points from Kinney helped the Sabers take a 31-24 lead into the half.
The start of the second half closely resembled the beginning to the first as McAleer opened the scoring with a three-point play and then added a three-pointer.
Henry Bloom answered a Solon hoop with a short jumper before McAleer scored again and completed his second alley oop.
In all, McAleer scored 11 points in the Sabers’ 15-4 run, helping Central DeWitt push the margin to 18.
Solon responded with a run of its own, reeling off seven straight points to make it 46-35.
Mac Zevenbergen and Ethan Pierce, though, both made two free throws and Zevenbergen’s three-pointer in the closing seconds made it an 18-point game again.
Kinney added a hoop to start the fourth quarter and the Sabers had their biggest lead at 55-35.
The Spartans, though, took advantage of Central DeWitt’s cold night at the free throw line — the Sabers shot 16-of-35 at the foul line, including 6-of-18 in the fourth quarter — to erase a big chunk of that lead.
The Spartans got as close as nine points, but the Sabers scored their final six points on free throws to clinch the victory.
McAleer did all of his scoring in the first and third quarters and finished with a game-high 22 points.
Kinney joined him in double figures with 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Bloom and Paulsen both had six points, while Zevenbergen had five.
Bloom dished out a team-high five assists, while McAleer had two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.