Somerset senior Liv Hoff launched a shot from two steps inside the midcourt stripe, banking the shot off the glass and through the hoop as the final horn sounded to give the Spartans a 54-53 win at Amery on Friday night.

Hoff’s 3-point shot set off a celebration with the Spartan players mobbing her at midcourt.

The win carried major importance for the Spartans. This game was a battle for third place in the Middle Border Conference standings, which the Spartans now hold alone with a 4-2 record. Somerset coach Cory Lindenberg said that’s a major achievement for the Spartans after the tied for the bottom spot in the conference standings a year ago.

Lindenberg was as excited as anyone to see Hoff have her moment of glory.

“She’s exactly what you want as a team basketball player,” Lindenberg said. “She’s smart, she gets after it, she’s a great teammate.”

Hoff is one of two seniors on the Spartan squad. Lindenberg credited her for being the person who steps up when the team needs someone to take a leadership role.

The Spartans were tremendous in perimeter shooting in the first half. They largely went away from it in the second half, except for Hoff. She opened the half with a 3-ball. With the Spartans’ lead slipping away late in the game, Hoff hit a 3-pointer with 1:49 left to put Somerset ahead 51-49. Amery then hit four free throws to take the lead, setting the stage for Hoff’s game-winner.

This was a game where the Spartans built a lead as large as 12 points, then saw it evaporate in the second half. Taylor Paulson was red-hot from the perimeter in the first half, hitting a trio of threes. Paulson and Rachel Gaikowski combined for 20 first half points as the Spartans built up a 28-22 lead. The Spartans’ offensive success carried into the early going of the second half, building up a 37-25 lead.

Amery took away many of Somerset’s perimeter looks in the second half. The Spartans tried to work the ball inside, but that was risky for both teams. The teams were allowed to play aggressive defense and most passes into the paint ended up in turnovers for both teams.

“It was a brawl,” Lindenberg said in describing the battles in the paint.

Lindenberg praised how Somerset junior Dani Schachtner battled for the ball in the post. She finished with a team-high 16 points.

“Dani was always energized,” Lindenberg said.

Paulson finished with 14 points, with Hoff and Gaikowski ending with nine points. Morgan Brotzel led Amery with 19 points.

The Spartans were hoping to keep pace with their opponent from the Big Rivers Conference, especially when Rice Lake post Brynn Olson drew two fouls in the first five minutes of the game. The Spartans couldn’t keep pace, losing 65-44 last Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, Rice Lake had three more tall post players who gave the Spartans problems all night. Somerset trailed 28-18 at halftime as Rice Lake’s height led to numerous rebounds and a defensive threat that bothered the Spartans.

Paulson led the Spartans with 13 points on Tuesday. MyKenzie Leccia and Schachtner both finished with eight points.

Somerset faces another MBC opponent this Thursday, hosting Baldwin-Woodville.