Sayre is on winter break this week, and its boys' basketball team looked like it was getting in some rest and relaxation in the early going against Whitefield Academy on Tuesday night.
The Spartans didn't show any spark and looked out of sync as they fell behind by 10 before scrambling back to get within 25-24 at halftime.
They were much better in the second half, but still had to overcome spotty play to pull out a 53-48 victory.
Afterward, first-year coach Rob Goodman admitted he was worried for a while, but never lost faith in his team.
"These guys know when they're not playing well, but they do play for each other and they are resilient," he said. "I was proud of the way they kept battling."
Sayre won even though Justin Sanders had an ice-cold shooting hand. The 6-foot-2 senior, who leads the Spartans in scoring (18 ppg), missed 19 of 21 shots.
"It was just not falling, not at all," he said of his usually reliable jumper.
Sanders made eight of 12 free throws to finish with 13 points. He also had eight rebonds, four assists and two steals.
"Justin's an incredible player, but we're not a one-man team," said 6-7 junior Quinn Pergande. "If he's not hitting, we have the capability to score in other ways."
Pergande was a primary option against Whitefield.
After foul trouble limited his first-half minutes, he broke loose for 13 of his 15 points in the second half. When he got open on the blocks, his teammates got him the ball.
Martin Durmov contributed eight points and six rebounds, and Henry Wolf grabbed six rebounds.
Goodman credited his bench with keeping Sayre afloat in the second quarter.
"They came in and really helped out," he said. "They may not have scored a lot but we would've been in real trouble without them."
Agustin Zambrano was especially effective, getting six crucial points.
Pergande said the Spartans took their coach's halftime message to heart. "He talked about picking up the intensity and playing with emotion. We did that."
Sayre had to overcome poor shooting (36 percent), and Whitefield's Chip Adkisson (18 points) and James Daily (16 points).
The Spartans were clutch in the closing 90 seconds.
Sanders hit one of two free throws to put the Spartans up 49-48. After Whitefield misfired, Pergande got the rebound and Durmov scored off an assist by Alex Webb.
When Whitefield missed again, Webb sealed the Spartans' third win in a row by making two free throws.
Sayre's resiliency this season has gone beyond basketball. In late January, Spartans junior Jalen Byrd was killed in a car accident. The team's warm-up shirts now have "Byrd" on the back.
"Our guys handled that tragedy as well as can be expected," Goodman said. "It really seemed to bring the team and the school together.
"That's one of the great things about Sayre. Everybody supports everybody."
Sayre 53, Whitefield Academy 48
WHITEFIELD ACADEMY (8-13) -- Patterson 6, Adkisson 18, Daily 16, Jackson 7, Addington 1.
SAYRE (15-9) -- Pergande 15, Sanders 13, Durmov 8, A. Webb 4, Wolf 3, Zambrano 6, Henderson 2, Dunn 2.
Whitefield Academy 15 10 14 9—48
Sayre 8 16 17 12 —53