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By Eric Clutter | Correspondent
As a veteran player on a very young squad in a transitional year, Kent Roosevelt senior Alan Ahart's role this season is sixth man as well as mentor to the rest of the squad, most notably fellow frontcourt players Myles Wright and Joseph Watts.
The 6-foot-4 Ahart has come off the bench for most of his Rough Rider career, but the leadership role has been something new.
"Every time he steps on the floor, he gives us everything he has," said Roosevelt coach Ben Dunlap. "He is a true team player. He is just one of those guys that I love. He is a leader and our most vocal guy."
The team's elder statesman has done a very good job of tutoring the 6-7 Wright and the 6-4 Watts. And Friday night against Field, Ahart proved to be a spark in an abbreviated appearance.
Before becoming ill at the half, Ahart registered six points and six rebounds off Dunlap's bench, helping boost the Rough Riders to a 34-29 lead. Wright and Watts, along with senior guard Corey Mitchell, took the reins from that point and carried the hosts to a 65-45 PTC Metro Division victory.
Roosevelt snapped a six-game losing skid and improved to 4-4 in the Metro. Field, meanwhile, dropped its fifth straight game and remains winless in the Metro at 0-8.
Wright finished the night with 15 points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. Watts complemented him with 13 points, 11 rebounds and three rejections. As a team, Roosevelt outrebounded the Falcons 43-27.
"(Ahart) pushes them every day in practice," said Dunlap. "We preach competition and he pushes them and makes them work harder and step up their game. They know he is right behind them. If they are not producing, I have a great guy coming off the bench."
Roosevelt rushed out to a 17-4 cushion after one quarter, only to see Field junior Austin Sparks erupt for 17 points in the second stanza, equalling the Roosevelt output for the frame and keeping the contest tight at the intermission.
The Falcons (2-8 overall) drew within one point early in the second half, but the Rough Riders tallied the next nine points to regain control. Malik Butler's long 3-pointer at the buzzer put Roosevelt up 50-38 going to the final eight minutes.
"It was tough for us to score inside because of their height," said Field coach Jon Lane. "We just kept telling our guys keep going up with it. We weren't able to get it to the rim, so obviously you have to rely on the outside stuff a little bit more. First and second quarter, we knocked them down; the second half, those weren't good."
Sparks scored only four points in the last two stanzas but still finished with a game-high 23. Levi Lowden added six.
"It is very frustrating," said Lane of his team's struggles this season. "But the thing that makes it better is we have a great group of kids who show up every day and give us everything they have. And we'll keep doing that until the very last game."
Mitchell chipped in with 14 points for Roosevelt (4-8 overall), which swept both games against Field this season.